The Red, Red Rose
By The Criticess
Since kindly Aphrodite spilt blood upon a white rose to aid her wounded lover, Adonis, a red rose has symbolised love everlasting – or a passing passion if it’s simply a flower and not a symbol of the life blood you would give to save a beloved.
Biblically, it is a symbol of shame, of the white rose so embarrassed by Adam and Eve’s carryings-on that it blushed crimson. For a celebration of romance, however, Aphrodite opening a vein for her Adonis is probably a more apposite backstory to the flower’s symbolism.
A red rose is for courage. It is an expression of a love that must be kept secret (though the universality of that particular symbol rather detracts from the secrecy). It is brewed to lure, bewitch or poison – depending on the stage of the relationship. Should you be in the happy situation of having a bevy of suitors from which to choose, write their names on the leaves of a red rose and cast them into the sky. The name on the leaf last to reach the ground is the man you should marry. If what you’d actually like most for Valentine’s Day is some peace and quiet, a rose is also a symbol of silence. It might be more straightforward just to buy earplugs or ask your beloved to be quiet than hope that they’ll work out the intended symbolism – a process that could take quite some time and a great deal of guessing. Also, its powers to silence are said to be effective only when presented to the likes of banshees, vampires, and unquiet spirits. If you happen to have a penchant for the undead – enough to have got yourself into a relationship with one – you may well be quite happy to hear about their day forevermore.
The quantity also carries symbolic meaning. If all you want to say is ‘I love you’ then give one; if you miss someone, give six; if it’s just a passing infatuation, send seven; if you both love them and delight in their company, give a dozen; eighteen roses is a floral begging for forgiveness; congratulate with twenty-five; and to show a love that is everlasting and unconditional no matter what (including, presumably, spending the month’s rent in interflora), heft home a bouquet of fifty.
However many you intend to give, be sure to keep them fresh: a withered red rose symbolises a fading passion and dying love. Valentine’s (or Valentinus’s) Day is hardly the time and place to tell someone it’s over.
About the author:
The Criticess spends her time stealing female writers, labelled classics and consigned to the doldrums of academia, and exploring them in all their unhinged, electrifying, mischievous, eloquent, mistressful glory.
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