The Meaning of Red Roses

The symbolism and history of a true icon.

By: THURSD. | 06-04-2024 | 8 min read
Floral Education Roses
Meaning of Red Roses

Throughout history, the classic rose has been highly desired for its timeless beauty and captivating scent. It serves as an excellent medium to convey deep emotions and sentiments. Roses are cherished as meaningful symbols of affection, with their significance varying based on their color. While the meaning of red roses varies depending on the specific occasion, they consistently offer a powerful means of communication without the need for words.

Red roses:


The History Behind the Meaning of Red Roses

Red roses are one of the most widely cultivated flowers in the world. According to the fossil record, we can trace the history of the rose back 35 million years. Most species we know today originated in Asia, as roughly 5,000 years ago garden cultivation of roses began in China. The blooms and seeds were then traded all over the world. Throughout the centuries they have been part of mythology, medicine, and even war.

In Western culture, the significance of the red rose dates back to Greek mythology and the belief that the red rose was created by Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Legend has it that the flower grew from the ground watered with Aphrodite’s tears and the blood of her ill-fated lover Adonis. Moving onto Roman mythology, the creation of red roses has been linked to Venus, the Goddess of Love. As Venus was running to warn her lover, Adonis, about a murder plot against him, she cut her ankles when she ran through a thorn bush. Her blood then turned into blooming red roses wherever it touched.



In Christianity, the red rose became the symbol of the Virgin Mary dating back to the third century AD. At that time, Saint Ambrose believed the Garden of Eden was full of thornless roses, which gained their thorns after the fall and symbolized Original Sin. Because of this, the Virgin Mary is often referred to as the “rose without thorns.” Further down the line, during the Victorian Era, red roses were commonly used to send messages of love due to romantic gestures and shows of affection being basically banned. Then, when Shakespeare took to fame, this became a poetic standard and everyone knew the meaning of the red rose as the symbol of love.


The meaning of red roses - Freedom roses Naranjo Roses on Thursd
Freedom Roses from Naranjo Roses Group


The Ultimate List of the Meanings of Red Roses

Red roses have captured the minds and hearts of lovers across the globe for generations. Giving a single stem or bunch of red roses on your anniversary, first date, Valentine’s Day, or just because is the perfect way to say, “I love you” when words are not enough. But there's more, red roses carry many different meanings. here's the ultimate list of the meaning of red roses:

  1. Symbolize love: Red roses have long been associated with love due to their vibrant red color, which symbolizes passion and strong emotions. The intense hue of red evokes feelings of desire and romance, making red roses a powerful symbol of love and affection.

    Furthermore, the velvety texture of rose petals and their enchanting fragrance adds to their allure, enhancing their association with love. Over time, red roses have become deeply ingrained in cultural and literary traditions as an iconic representation of love, making them a timeless and classic choice for expressing deep affection.

  2. Express romantic love: Red roses have become synonymous with romantic love due to their striking appearance and captivating fragrance. The deep red color of the petals symbolizes the intensity of passion and romantic desire, making red roses an ideal choice for expressing profound romantic feelings.

    The association between red roses and romantic love can also be attributed to historical and cultural influences. Literature, poetry, and art often depict red roses as symbols of love, enhancing their romantic connotation. Additionally, the long-standing tradition of offering red roses as a romantic gesture has further solidified their meaning as a symbol of love and devotion.

  3. Convey desire: The intense and passionate red color of roses evokes a sense of desire and longing. The rich crimson hue symbolizes the intensity of emotions and represents an ardent yearning for someone. The alluring beauty and captivating fragrance of red roses amplify their association with desire.

    Red roses have been used throughout history to convey feelings of intense attraction and longing for someone, making them an ideal choice for expressing desire in romantic relationships. The inherent beauty and symbolic nature of red roses make them a potent symbol of passionate desire and longing for a loved one.

  4. Signify respect and admiration: Red roses are not only associated with romantic love but also convey deep respect and admiration for someone. The vibrant red color of the roses symbolizes the depth of appreciation and regard one holds for another person.

    The act of gifting red roses to someone can demonstrate high esteem, honor, and admiration for their qualities and accomplishments. By presenting red roses, one expresses profound respect and acknowledges the significance of the recipient in their life. The elegance and beauty of red roses make them a fitting choice for showing admiration and respect in various personal and professional contexts.

  5. Represent courage and sacrifice: Red roses can also symbolize courage and sacrifice in the context of love. The bold and intense red color signifies the bravery and willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of love.

    The thorns that often accompany red roses serve as a reminder of the challenges and sacrifices one may endure in a relationship. The act of giving red roses can be seen as a declaration of courage to face the obstacles and sacrifices that love may require. Red roses beautifully capture the idea of love as a powerful force that requires bravery and selflessness.

  6. Indicate deep commitment: Red roses are often associated with deep commitment and dedication to a romantic relationship. The passionate red color symbolizes a profound and unwavering commitment to love and the willingness to invest in a long-term partnership.

    By gifting red roses, individuals express their desire to nurture and strengthen their bond with their partner. Red roses can represent a promise to stand by each other's side, even during challenging times. Their vibrant color and symbolism embody the depth of commitment and the intention to build a lasting and meaningful relationship based on love and devotion.

  7. Furthermore, red roses are often given to celebrate significant milestones in a relationship, such as anniversaries. By choosing red roses, individuals reaffirm their commitment and express their unwavering love for their partner. The timeless beauty and romantic associations of red roses make them a powerful symbol of deep commitment and a testament to the enduring nature of love.

In summary, the various meanings associated with red roses have evolved over time due to their striking appearance, cultural influences, and symbolic nature. The vibrant red color, velvety texture, and enchanting fragrance of red roses evoke powerful emotions and evoke the essence of love, desire, respect, admiration, courage, sacrifice, and commitment. Whether it's to express romantic love, convey deep admiration, or symbolize unwavering commitment, red roses continue to be cherished as a timeless symbol of profound emotions and a classic choice for expressing heartfelt sentiments.

The red rose is the symbol of passion, true love, romance, and desire. The red rose was and still is the most significant flower. It's for the reasons above to no surprise that flower delivery companies such as MyGlobalFlowers report that red roses are the top seller flowers.


Rose Born Free and Rose Furiosa from De Ruiter 

The Meaning of Red Roses in Weddings

When used in a wedding bouquet, red roses are a token of appreciation and true respect. A dark red rose can convey the message that you are ready for commitment and represents passion. Red rosebuds can symbolize purity and loveliness along with romantic love. And presenting your love with a preserved red rose can symbolize your wish to preserve the love and passion you share. While the symbolism of flowers isn’t always consistent because their meanings are subject to change over time, the red rose is one of the few with a lasting and universal meaning: Love.


The Meaning of Red Roses - Lis Art - Decofresh Roses - on Thursd
Design Lis-Art


Symbolism in Numbers

As well as the different colors of roses all have their own meaning (which you can read about in our article The Different Colors of Roses and Their Meaning), and the other numbers of roses all represent a different facet of love. Here's a quick overview:

  • One Rose – Love at first sight, or if in a long-term relationship conveying ‘you are still the only one’.
  • Two Roses – Mutual Love and Affection
  • Six Roses – Infatuation and the Need to be yours
  • Ten Roses – Their love is perfection
  • Eleven Roses – True and deep love that is treasured
  • Twelve Roses – A classic gift that says ‘be mine’
  • Fifteen Roses – An Apology for a loved one
  • Twenty-Four Roses – Clearly state that ‘I’m yours’
  • Thirty-Six Roses – Head over Heels in Love
  • Fifty Roses – A Love that has no bounds.

Now that you know the history of red roses and the different kinds of love it represents, why not gift some to someone you love?


The meaning of red roses - Love all over the world - W+W red rose petals on black 2000 Charlotte Bassin Worldmap Ever Red Rose Petals on Thursd
World map by Charlotte Bassin - - with Ever Red Rose Petals


Everyone knows that red roses are a symbol of love. Each color in roses has a different meaning, but for red,... we know.

An idea for an everlasting gift is to freeze-dry your red rose. Because roses wilt easily, you can also consider custom metal pins with your loved one’s name or a special element to make your love never wilt. Freeze-dried roses, infinity roses, or other gifts are something no one can refuse when they convey the right meaning.



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