National Red Rose Day is celebrated on June 12, in the U.S., to pay tribute to one of the most iconic symbols of love and romance throughout history — the red rose. Incidentally, the rose is also the birth flower for June, and June is a popular month for weddings; so what could be more apt. While roses all over the nation begin to bloom, National Red Rose Day is a time for lovers, botanists, florists, and basically, anyone else, to get together to pay tribute to this classical flower. It has stood the test of time and will probably do so for years to come. The best part is that there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a nature lover, just stopping to smell the roses and marvel at their beauty; or if you’re a hopeless romantic who likes to make gestures — the red rose is as versatile as can be, to suit your interpretation of it. Also, did you know that in three different languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and French) the word ‘rose’ means ‘red?’ How’s that for serendipity!
History of National Red Rose Day
In keeping with the sense of romance and mystique which a red rose can evoke, the exact origins of National Red Rose Day are unknown, though it is said to have branched off from Rose Day (celebrated during Valentine’s Week in February), for the past decade. Whatever the reason for this separation, we are glad to have an excuse to give this scarlet bloom its due.
Surprisingly, the first records of roses being cultivated come from China, around 5000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty (141-87 B.C.). Though the flowers were what we call Chinese roses (a variant of Hibiscus flowers) or wild roses, they had similar characteristics to the modern-day red rose and can be seen in paintings and pottery of that era. The red rose then made its way to the culture-soaked civilizations of Rome and Greece, where it was cultivated and evolved into what we know it as today, in the Middle East especially. For the Greeks and Romans, the red rose was a symbol of luxury and an object of inspiration for many painters and writers. Perhaps that is why we now associate this luxurious flower with passion and grandiosity. By the time Christianity spread to Europe, the rose’s popularity dipped because it was seen as encouraging vices like excess and decadence.
However, it soon rose in popularity again and went on to have a bit of a bloody history too. In Tudor England (1500s), two royal factions — House of York and House of Lancaster, each with a rose as their symbol, fought a series of battles against each other; which are now collectively termed as the War of the Roses. House Lancaster (red rose) eventually emerged victoriously and the two roses were merged to form the ‘Tudor Rose’. Other than this bit of violent history, however, the red rose continues to be a popular expression of love, romance, beauty, and all things that are right with the world.
National Red Rose Day timeline
Battles are fought between two opposing Houses under the monarchy in England, each represented by a rose (red and white).
Robert Burns first publishes “A Red, Red Rose” as a Scots song, which later becomes a poem.
President Ronald Reagan declares the rose as the national flower of America, standing in the White House rose garden.
Canadian artist, Claudio D’Angelo, creates a $3 silver coin with two blooming roses; plated in rose gold.
National Red Rose Day FAQs
Is there an International Rose Day?
International Rose Day is celebrated on June 25. However, the kind of rose we’re talking about here is Rosé — a delicious pink wine which is perfect for a nice brunch out in the garden, among the roses hopefully!
What is meant by Rose Day?
Rose Day is usually celebrated the week before Valentine’s Day and can include roses of all colors to express different things. National Red Rose Day is special because it singles out the red rose specifically and pays homage to this classic version.
What do different rose colors symbolize?
Red roses symbolize love, beauty, courage, respect, and romance. White roses symbolize innocence and purity. Pink roses symbolize admiration and sympathy. Orange roses symbolize enthusiasm and fascination. Yellow roses symbolize joy, freedom, and friendship. Cream roses symbolize charm, thoughtfulness, and graciousness. Additionally, a rose without thorns tells the receiver that it was ‘love at first sight’!
How to Celebrate National Red Rose Day
Let your creativity flow
There’s a trend on social media to share prompts and let people create what they will around them. Let the red rose be your prompt and see where your creativity leads you. Go the classic route with a song, poem, or painting; or think out-of-the-box and use it to create something uniquely you!
Organize a pub quiz
If we had a dime for every red rose reference in pop culture throughout the ages, we’d be able to afford a rose petal bath every day! Be it in songs, movies, books, or quotes — rose references abound. So why not do some research, get your gang together, and organize a rose-themed pub quiz?
Visit a rose garden
Since June is when the roses are looking their best, plan an outing with friends or family, to take in that sweet summer air in any of the popular rose gardens across the country. If a road trip is not in the cards, you can always grow your own rose garden, it doesn’t require green fingers.
5 Facts About Roses Which You May Not Know
Not just the U.S. national flower
Ecuador, Slovakia, Luxembourg, the Republic of Maldives, England, Iran, Iraq, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Romania all claim the rose as their own.
They can live a millennium
The oldest living rose (Hildesheim Rose) is 1000 years old, growing in a Cathedral in Hildesheim, Germany.
Each rose hue has meaning
A caution to the wise — be careful when you pick out roses, as each color expresses something different.
Rose cultivation can be lucrative
Rose breeder, David Austin, spent 15 years and $5 million on his Juliet Rose, which sold for a whopping $15.8 million, in 2006.
Sssh! Red roses meant secrecy
In ancient Rome, wearing a red rose or keeping it outside a door meant one is sworn to secrecy, hence the term ‘sub rosa’ means ‘secret’.
Why We Love National Red Rose Day
Red roses have universal appeal
Whatever your cultural context, the red rose unites us all with its universal symbolism for love, romance, passion, and intrigue. Weddings the world over continue to use red roses in decorations, bouquets, and wedding attire — they complement many a blushing bride. To this day, giving someone a red rose is an unspoken confession of love, no matter where in the world you are.
Roses contribute to awareness
Complete with a heartwarming anecdote, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Australia celebrates its own National Red Rose Day (sometime in May), thanks to the mispronunciation of a four year old suffering from the same condition. In 1965, Mary Weiss volunteered for the Cystic Fibrosis US Foundation, knowing her three sons had it. Her son Richard told his mom that she worked for “65 roses,” and thus the day of awareness was born — ‘65 roses for Cystic Fibrosis,’ with the foundation’s logo including a rose.
Red roses have many uses
To quote Shakespeare, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, yet we’re glad the name stuck. To think of a red rose is to think of its heady fragrance; so it’s no wonder that rose essence is a popular perfume ingredient. Roses also have medicinal value and are used in cooking and beverages too (hello cocktails!).
National Red Rose Day dates