Jule Romans has over 30 years of experience researching and writing on educational topics. She presently works in State Government.
What Does It Mean to Send White Roses?
White roses tend to evoke a sense of peace and serenity. Everyone who looks at them can see the subtle radiance of the petals. They almost seem to glow with an otherworldly light. This is possibly one of the reasons that white roses are used to symbolize loyalty, devotion, and a pure essence. White roses have an eternal, ethereal quality that makes them seem almost holy.
White roses can be sent to celebrate engagements, first communion, graduations, births, almost any occasion that is a new beginning.
What Do White Roses Symbolize?
The meaning of the white rose is based on mythological, religious, cultural, and historical associations. There are distinct meanings for bouquets of white roses, a single white rose, and a white rosebud.
The Meaning of a Full Bouquet of White Roses
- Honorable love with worthy intentions
- Youthful innocence
- Faithful devotion, commitment
- First occasions, new beginnings
The Meaning of a Single White Rose
- Love and devotion
- Deep respect
The Meaning of a Single White Rosebud
- Love for a child
White Roses Mean Innocence and Pure Love
Ultimately, white roses are symbol of purity and innocence. They are also very versatile flowers, popular in a wide range of settings. Because of their association with purity, white roses are truly a symbol of the best kind of life.
White roses can communicate several different meanings, depending upon the occasion, history, and context of the bouquet. White roses also have meanings that have evolved through religion, mythology, culture, and history.
When Should You Send a Single White Rosebud?
A single white rosebud is used to symbolize the innocence of youth.
In Victorian traditions, family members would often give a single white rosebud to a young girl or child. This meant a celebration of the child within the family, and a strengthening of the family bond.
Nowadays, a single white rosebud is an appropriate gift for a first communion or other religious ceremony that is an important childhood event.
How Did the Meaning of White Roses Develop?
From Victorian Traditions
- White roses mean that a lover’s feelings are pure, with the intention of making an honorable commitment.
- A single white rosebud is the symbol of youth and innocence.
- White roses express faithful devotion in marriage, often in wedding ceremonies.
From Religion and Mythology
- A white rose means holiness
- The white rose, as a representation the first rose ever created, means anything that is perfect, new and pure.
White roses, therefore, could sent be for engagements, first communion, graduations, births, almost any occasion that is a new beginning.
The White Rose's Meaning in Victorian Traditions
The white rose symbolizes a string of intensely meaningful concepts, all linked to marriage and weddings.
In the Victorian era, white roses meant that a suitor was announcing intent to begin a serious courtship for marriage.
A suitor who sent a bouquet of white roses was communicating his worthiness for marriage. Presumably, the roses announced to the family that the suitor was not only wealthy enough to marry, but also completely pure in his intentions.
This tradition may also have been influenced by the fact that Queen Victoria herself had white roses at her wedding. This began a long tradition of using white roses for the purest type of honorable love.
Even today, we still see bouquets of white roses at weddings. Perhaps the connection expresses the intended meaning of white roses… a pure love that leads to holy matrimony.
The White Rose's Meaning in Mythology
The white rose was associated with the myth of the goddess Aphrodite. It is described most memorably in the works of the Greek lyric poet Anacreon.
According to Greek and Roman mythology, the white rose was the first of all roses.
Anacreon recounts that the white rose first sprang forth during the birth of Aphrodite. Roses throughout the world were then only all white . It was later, when tragedy struck and Aphrodite cut herself on a thorn, that roses were turned red by her blood.
So the first, purest, and happiest rose was the white rose.
The White Rose's Meaning in Christianity
White roses have great significance in the Christian religion.
The Virgin Mary is often connected with the white rose.
She herself has been known as the Mystical Rose of Heaven. Since the color white is associated with light, joy, and glory in Christianity, this connection makes perfect sense. These are all virtues that are considered among Mary’s blessings.
The White Rose's Meaning in History
For this reason, white roses tended to appear frequently in medieval gardens.
According to Michelle Farrell, speaking to someone in garden among the masses of white roses was supposed to indicate a confidential conversation.
This association with secrecy extended to include loyalty and trust during the War of the Roses in the 15th century. The White rose was the official emblem of the House of York. White roses were often worn by those who supported York during the reign of King Henry VII.
The White Rose's Meaning in Modern Times
Sometimes white roses may be included in funeral arrangements, but that is more of a coincidence than a specific meaning for this flower. We would prefer to associate the white rose with innocence, purity and celebrations of life, rather than death.
White flowers, in general, are the traditional funeral arrangement. Roses are such versatile flowers that they often appear in this context. This does not mean that white roses have any kind of symbolism of death at all. They just happen to appear in white funeral arrangements because they are such versatile flowers
It is also true that in some cultures, people wear red or white roses to church on Mother's Day. Wearing a white rose to church on Mother's Day may symbolize that your mother is no longer living. However, that may not be the only interpretation of this symbol. It may also symbolize respect for a mother's purity of spirit.
Bender, D. (2104, October 29). The Mythological Rose. Charenton Macerations. Retrieved February 2021.
Burke, L. (1858). Illustrated Language of Flowers. George Routledge and Sons.
Farrell, M. (2014, February). What Do White Roses Represent? Teleflora Blog. Retrieved February 2021.
The Secret Language of Roses,Victorian Era. (2015). Racing Nellie Bly: Famous Women in History. Retrieved February 2021.
(Sources listed in modified APA Style, 7th Edition)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Jule Romans