An Arabic legend further strengthens the bond between romance and roses and the effect of a literal heart’s blow. The story goes that a nightingale was besotted with a single white rose. The passion was so strong that for the first time in its life, the nightingale opened its mouth to the sound of music and its love was such that the nightingale pressed itself up against the rose when its heart was pierced by a thorn from the flower, which, in turn, changed its colour to that of blood.
The nightingale wanted the flower so much that it took its own life, creating an eternal bond between the heart’s blood and passionate feelings of romance. Such legends date back to the earth’s most ancient civilisations, so the connection between romance and the rose go back as far as humanity itself. With these everlasting stories, bouquets of roses have been passed down from one generation to the next as a symbol of romance, appearing in Shakespeare, medieval frescoes, and more.
Since the 19th century, we have seen the rose act as a symbol for romance, playing a vital role in dating and courtship. Throughout the following century, the act of sending roses has been used as an expression of love. It has lasted in popular culture for centuries.
Even today, the rose is offered as a prize on the reality series The Bachelorette, as a way of telling the contestant that they can continue on in their journey to win the man or woman of their dreams. In Beauty and the Beast, one of the most enduring stories of our time, the rose acts as a symbol for romance, as the Beast is unable to love again (and be loved back) until the petals of a single rose have shed.
Shakespeare used the rose as a metaphor for romance during the Renaissance. His most well-known reference to the flower is found within his most famous work, Romeo and Juliet, but he also used it on countless other occasions, such as his sonnets, Antony and Cleopatra, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The 1800’s saw Victorians create a bond between red roses and romance that it is more familiar to us today. They were keen on floriography (the language of flowers), developing meanings for each shade of flower that was known, using this language when sending flowers to lovers or friends. The tradition cemented the red rose’s symbolism for romance.
In that time, public expression of one’s feelings wasn’t considered appropriate, so floriography and offering a red rose as a gift was a form of offering affection without having to say it. Sending flowers was a common practice at this time, particularly roses of various colours to convey meaning, such as eternal friendship and sympathy.
Whether in the form of a bouquet presented as a gift on Valentine’s Day or a single red rose presented on a date, the rose remains one of the most romantic ways of conveying the notion of romance. The tradition, being steeped in ancient civilisations, proves that romance ranks among out most treasured experiences.