Coveted through the ages for its simple beauty and often intoxicating fragrance, there is no better way to send a heartfelt message than with a classic rose. Roses make great tokens of affection and depending on their color, they can have different meanings. The meaning of white roses differs depending on the occasion they are used for, but they are always a great way to send a message using no words at all.
The Meaning of White Roses and Their Historical Significance
Traditionally, white roses are a popular choice for weddings. Because they represent purity, the flower is a wonderful option for marriage celebrations. Besides purity, white roses also represent youthfulness, innocence, young love, and loyalty. Because of this, white roses are often also viewed as a way to symbolize new beginnings and have come to represent love, much like red roses have done for ages.
The History Behind the Flower
A long time ago, all the way back in ancient Greece, the white rose was a symbol of the goddess Aphrodite (who was later renamed Venus by the Romans). Aphrodite embodies the ideal of feminine beauty, love, and sexuality. There is a myth that all roses used to be white, until the goddess pricked her foot on a thorn, dripping her blood onto the roses and causing them to turn red. Allegedly, this happened after Cupid (or Eros) accidentally shot the stems with an arrow, resulting in the flower growing thorns. Offering flowers at the temples of the gods was a common practice in ancient Greek times. Seeing as Aphrodite represented roses, she was often honored with them by her followers. Because of this ancient myth, giving flowers has become a way of expressing that you view your loved one as a goddess. It is the perfect way to tell your significant other that he/she/they means the world to you.
The white rose is also a symbol in Christianity, as it often represents the Virgin Mary. She is sometimes called the “Mystical Rose of Heaven,” where the rose represents purity and joy. Because of her connection to the white rose, they often were popular in medieval gardens.
Political Significance of These Blooms
Throughout history, white roses have had a significant cultural role. Not just in religion, but in politics as well. For instance, the white rose was the official symbol of House of York supporters in the War of the Roses, which took place in England during King Henry VII's reign during the 15th century. In Germany, there was a non-violent opposition group of students who opposed Hitler and they used the name 'die Weiße Rose'or 'the white rose'. It symbolized the youth and the pure intentions of the participants.
The Meaning of White Roses at Weddings
The white rose is one of the most traditional wedding flowers - and it makes sense. The fact that these blossoms represent purity makes them a fitting flower for celebrating a new romantic and marital bond. Because of its popularity at weddings, the white rose is often dubbed as 'the bridal rose'.
Additionally, white roses have been associated with young love, making them the perfect option for a classic bridal bouquet. Considering that these blooms often convey a feeling of hope, they can symbolize other new beginnings besides marriage as well.
The Meaning of White Roses at Funerals
White roses are also often spotted at funerals. They are a very common flower for this occasion, along with flowers like chrysanthemums and carnations in the same color. As the white rose can also indicate honor and reverence - and often a feeling of spirituality, they are regularly present in sympathy arrangements at funerals. They are used to symbolize remembrance, love, and respect for the departed person, and a way of telling others that the departed has gone to heaven. In these emotional times, white roses act as a way to bring a little bit of peace to the grieving family.
Other Occasions For White Roses
White roses don't only lend themselves to weddings and funerals. Because the meaning of white roses is so versatile, you can gift them to other important people in your life. They can be given to your close family or others who support you. This is because the white rose can also represent your appreciation for another person’s support- it is a way of telling someone else that they are guiding you through your life. You might also encounter white roses at a graduation party. They are often gifted to the recent graduates as a way to tell them that they are on a journey to a new beginning and that you are there to support them if they need it. White roses are also seen as a way to restore balance in life, so you can send them to a sick friend as a symbol of good health, to your new neighbors or friends that are moving away as they convey changes and new beginnings in life, or to someone who is struggling, as white roses can also stand for wishing someone a prosperous future.
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), the different 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 ‘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
But besides all of the different meanings of white roses, it is simply a beautiful flower to gift to anyone. If you want to show someone that you care, or even just want to brighten up their day, you can never go wrong with picking white roses. Both its beauty and significance are timeless.