There are so many meanings and symbols attached to the rose that one of the most successful books in history was named that as part of its mind-bending mystery.
However, when people are asked about the meaning of eternal roses, they will typically immediately think of a love that lasts forever. However, the association of roses with love likely traces back to Ancient Greek mythology.
Part of the reason for this is that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, passion and beauty, was associated most prominently with the rose, although she would also have other symbols such as swans and doves that have also come to be linked to love.
Exactly where this belief came from is lost to time but it has been depicted in numerous instances, most notably in Homer’s Iliad, when Hector was protected by Aphrodite using sweet-scented rose oil.
The travel writer Pausanias links the rose with Adonis, the mortal man who became Aphrodite’s lover and died in her arms.
These stories travelled beyond Greece after the Roman conquest of Greece and became associated with their goddess of love Venus.
When the Roman Empire made Christianity their official religion, many of the symbols remained but became associated with other parts of Christian theology. The rose became linked to the Virgin Mary to the point that the rosary prayer beads were named after it.
In the UK and Catalonia, the red rose became associated with St George, the patron saint of England, to the point that in the latter, St George’s Day is treated in a similar way to Valentine’s Day, where boys traditionally give girls a red rose and girls give boys a book.
Exactly where this association comes from is somewhat unclear, as there are few records of St George with his rose heraldry until after the War of the Roses, where there would be motivation from the Houses of York, Lancaster and Tudor to associate the patron saint of the country with their monarchy.