History of the Rose

As I thought about Valentine’s Day I got to wondering why we consider the rose to be the preferred flower to give to your significant other. It turns out the rose has been a revered flower for over 5,000 years! The Romans loved their roses, creating large gardens dedicated to just this one flower. They didn’t do it just because the flowers were beautiful. Roses served many medicinal purposes, many of which comes as quite a surprise to me. Here are just a few uses:

  • Rose petals were used to control bleeding because they have tannin. Tannin is an astringent that creates a bond with proteins (reference).
  • The Chinese use rose oil for stomach ailments. Even powered roses were used before the invention of Tums!

Many of us have seen those tiny bulbs that remain on rose bushes, known as rose hips. Rose hips are a favorite among tea drinkers, but they are a great source of vitamin C and often are listed as an ingredient in vitamins. When I was in Norway, our host had bushes loaded with the largest rose hips I had ever seen. They were the size of radishes!

Rose hips were found to prevent scurvy and the British created a syrup used during WWII when citrus fruits were unavailable.

The French had a love affair with roses and used it a lot in the kitchen, with recipes dating back to the 1600’s. For example, if you crush freshly picked rose petals, you can make a paste to use with desserts. I have seen crushed rose petals rolled into balls and dried to use for jewelry. Their fragrance renews itself with use due to the skin warmth and friction against fabric and skin.

Of course, roses were used for their fragrant properties in oils and creams. My grandmother just loved the Avon Rose perfume. I think we gave her something rose scented for every occasion. One of her favorite Avon containers was the reproductions of the original canisters when they were the California Perfume Company.

Roses have played a part in history as well. Have you heard of the War of Roses? This was actually a series of battles between two royal branches of England. The Red Rose symbolized the house of Lancaster. The White rose symbolized the house of York. They fought for thirty years, beginning in 1455. The Red Rose group eventually won and ruled England and Wales for 117 years as the House of Tudor.

A little closer to home (and timelier) is the Battle of the Flowers, the original name of the Tournament of Roses parade. The event began in 1890 by the Pasadena, California’s, Valley Hunt Club. Their goal was to celebrate the wonderful weather and beautiful flowers blooming in abundance around them while the majority of the country was stuck in mid-winter blues. The parade started the day which lead into events such as jousting, tug-of-war games, and bronco busting. Some odd races also took place including a race between an elephant and a camel. The first year, about 2,000 people showed up. An estimated 700,000 were on hand this year, not to mention another 70 million TV viewers! When I was young, I can remember my parents renting a color TV to watch the Rose Bowl Parade!

Parade Trivia: In 2013 there were 42 floats, 23 marching bands, and 21 equestrian units. It takes 65,000 hours to pull off the parade, handled by 34 committees. Approximately 18 million flowers are required to cover all the floats. To cover just one square foot takes 36 marigolds, 20 daisies or 30 roses!

Football Trivia: The Rose Bowl Game is the oldest college bowl game, beginning in 1902. It became an annual event in 1916 and today it has the largest physical attendance of all the bowl games.

So what about Valentine’s Day? King Henry VII made February 14th the official date for Valentine’s Day. However, the origins go clear back to the Roman Empire around 270 A.D. Here are some fun facts! Thirty-five million heart-shaped boxes of candy will be sold. One BILLION dollars will be spent on all forms of chocolate gifts. However, Valentine’s sales ranks fourth in annual candy sales behind Halloween, Easter, and then Christmas. There will be 189 million stems of roses sold, mostly red. Men will send 73% of the flowers; women will send 27% of them. However 15% of the women will send them to themselves. One billion Valentine’s cards will be sent around the world, second only to the volume sent at Christmas. Women will buy 85% of the cards, and teachers receive the most valentines of any other group.

There are several stitches we can use to create hearts and roses. Here are just a few. Click on the stitch to be taken to the stitch diagram. Shown below are these stitches done in several different fibers.

Spider Web Rose »

Wrapped Rose »

Counted Cross Stitch Heart

Satin Heart

Rhodes Heart »

Rhodes Heart Variations

We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

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“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com. A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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