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Valentine’s Day Roses: Then And Now

The rose has been a recurring literary theme since the thirteenth century as a symbol of love. However, giving roses for Valentine's Day is a modern tradition.

The Rose As A Symbol Of Love

The rose has recurred in literature as a symbol of love since the thirteenth century. There were at least three wild species of roses in Medieval Europe:

  1. the French Rose, or, “Rosa Gallica”
  2. the Dog Rose , or, “Rosa Canina” and
  3. the Eglantine Rose , or, “Rose eglanteria” which was the rose celebrated in the ancient story “The Romance of the Rose.”

The History Of Valentine’s Day Traditions

The celebration of Valentines Day as a day celebrating love seems to have little connection with the Saint who died a martyr’s death on February 14, AD 270. Decorative Valentine’s cards with flowery pictures and verses have been popular since the sixteenth century, though the practice of giving red roses as Valentines gifts is a modern phenomenon.

The long stemmed red roses that are sold for Valentine’s Day are the result of careful hybridization. Growers follow a very precise schedule in order to ensure that their roses bloom in time to meet the demand for Valentines Day. The blooms look so perfect, but the scent is often not as enticing as that of old fashioned roses.  Flower prices usually peak shortly before the 14th.

If you’re bored with the traditional all red bouquet, you should consider buying some white roses and insert one red rose in the center of the bouquet. Its an attractive alternative.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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