Here Are The Real Reasons Everyone Associates Red Roses With Love & Romance

by Lily Rouff

I've never understood flowers as a gift. Sure, they're pretty and they smell nice, but have you priced out flowers lately? If someone wants to throw down $100+ on wooing me, how about tickets to see my favorite musician perform live, a sushi-making class, or a Rent the Runway Pro Membership? (I like clothes, OK?) The thing is, though, every time I see another girl get flowers, she goes all doe-eyed and high-pitched. My opposite reaction makes me ponder... what died inside of me? That's why I'm determined to find out why red roses are romantic.

My frame of reference for almost everything is movies, and there is a lot of flower-giving to really stoked ladies on film. Roses appear in pop culture all the time in classics like V for Vendetta, Alice in Wonderland, and Beauty and the Beast. So... a vigilante murderer leaves roses next to his victims' bodies, a queen obsessed with red roses is angered and nearly beheaded a bunch of innocent playing cards, and a witch turns a sexy prince into a full-on beast, unless he can find love and beat out some enchanted rose timer. All of these seem pretty far from convincing on the "roses are romantic" front.

Those may not be the best examples, though. It's time for a more intellectual approach. Even the biggest of cynics cannot argue with symbolism, history, and usage of red roses within many civilizations, past and present.


Colors can be very powerful tools of expression, and red is a strong one at that. This color of extremes is representative of love, passion, and seduction, according to Colors Matter. In floriography, or the language of flowers, red roses have symbolized romance, dating all the way back to the Victorian Era. Gold Florist goes into deeper meanings of red roses, with a complete dictionary based on the variety of red roses you receive. For example, unconscious beauty is repped by darker red roses, a rose without thorns might indicate the giver's love at first sight for the receiver, and a single red rose in all its full-bloom glory is a declaration of love.


It's believed the garden cultivation of roses started around 5,000 years ago and is largely traced to China, according to the University of Illinois. But roses have been around for longer than that (35 million years, to be exact), and have popped up as an object of affection throughout history. According to Desert Sun, wealthy Romans would fill their bedroom chambers with rose petals before sex to create a soft, fragrant bed. In the medieval French poem, "Roman de la Rose" (in English, "Romance of the Rose"), British Library cites that poets Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun used the rose to symbolize female sexuality, while teaching about "the whole art of love." Lastly, there's a bit more to why Victorians subscribed to the language of flowers. As told by 5 Minute History, Victorians needed flowers to express intimacy in a subtle game of courtship, since professing feelings publicly wasn't socially acceptable at the time.


Depressed? Feeling low on libido? Potentially getting sick? Rose hips, or the fruit of roses, are said to have some minor medicinal uses, such as being an antidepressant, aphrodisiac, and antibacterial solution, among others, according to Flower Meaning. That might not sound romantic, but love is about caring for others. Giving someone some feel-good flowers to help lift their spirits, cure their cold, or get them in the mood is a true act of love. According to Bayer Garden, the essence of rose is also really popular, so much so that, currently, almost all female perfumes contain it. And we all know smelling good can lead to major attraction.

Call me a conformist, but apparently, a red rose is way more than something that looks pretty in a vase on your kitchen counter. While the monetary value behind something doesn't always need to be justified, the fact that roses can and do have multiple uses, meanings, and a rich background make the price tag a little less cringeworthy. And perhaps even more meaningful than that is the fact that mysterious and fascinating objects have a lot of appeal, which is, in turn, the definition of romance.

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