When someone says, “Valentine’s gift,” two things come to mind—chocolate and roses. Personally, I am not a fan of the commercialization of Valentine’s Day but I do love chocolates.
As for roses… as early as the first of February, ads for roses started building up. Red, pink, yellow, white peach… Apparently, the color of the roses you send to a special someone is significant. Red means love, white signifies purity, salmon roses suggest “desire and excitement“, yellow roses mean jealousy or envy… The meaning of each color varies depending on which website you’re visiting.
Just who attached meaning to the color of roses?
Marketing ploy, most likely, I thought. Then, I came across a few references to superstitions during the Victorian era. According to some websites, the association of the color yellow with jealousy, envy and even infidelity is straight out of Victorian England. To negate the nasty reputation of yellow roses, modern-day flower sellers decided that since this isn’t the Victorian era anymore, today, yellow roses mean non-romantic friendship.
If you’re among those who believe in the Valentine ritual, as commercialized as it may be, surely you wouldn’t want to give that special someone roses of the wrong color.
What about blue roses?
The first time I encountered a blue rose was in an old, old, old movie. In The Thief of Baghdad, a thief (Robin Hood style) masquerading as a prince falls in love with a princess who becomes ill. The cure, so says an old man, is that the princess be given a blue rose by someone who loves her and whom she loves in return. After a series of adventures, the thief successfully obtains the mysterious blue rose but the flower is destroyed during a battle. In the end, the thief gives the princess a white rose and tells her that, if she really loves him, then the flower is blue. As it does turn blue. A lovely and romantic story, indeed.
In literature, blue roses have become a symbol for the unattainable.
But blue roses don’t exist in nature. In 2011, through genetic engineering, a Japanese company successfully introduced a blue pigment to white roses and created the world’s first blue rose. In truth, however, the color is more lavender than blue.
Beware of buying and giving blue roses
If you see blue roses in flower shops, they’re dyed. If you give them to someone who knows The Thief of Baghdad, or has read Tennessee Williams or Rudyard Kipling, the lucky recipient will probably feel all glowing with the flattery. Imagine being considered “unattainable”—that’s like being lifted on a pedestal and worshipped.
On the other hand, if the person you’re wooing is completely unfamiliar with the blue rose in literature but who is aware that blue roses are dyed, the message you’re trying to relay through flowers might be interpreted as, “Oh, you’re such a fake!”