By Jill Brooke
Because there is so much anxiety over the U.S. election, I am suggesting people go out and buy roses as well as hybrids.
These flowers are actually historically symbolic in forging peace from different warring factions.
Back in the 15th century, red and white roses represented the British houses of Lancaster and York.
You’ve heard the term “The War of the Roses,” right? (It also was a movie in 1989 with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner).
The “War of the Roses” is a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought in 1455 to 1487 between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster represented by a red rose, and the House of York, represented by a white rose.
When they forged a peace agreement, white and red roses – and later hybrids – became symbols of peace and unity.
The concept of the “Wars of the Roses” as a metaphor for battling families with no one winning entered the English language after the publication in 1829 of “Anne of Geierstein” by Sir Walter Scott.
He based the name on a scene in William Shakespeare’s play “Henry VI (Act 2, Scene 4) set in the gardens of the Temple Church where a number of noblemen and a lawyer pick red or white roses to show their loyalty to the Lancastrian or Yorkist faction – thus reviving this historical anecdote.
It’s also the reason for their continued popularity at British weddings since at U.S. weddings, brides prefer pastel colors.
It is why I will have hybrid red and white roses on my dinner table all this week. We want peace and togetherness – not division.
Also, it comes in handy to remind people how you have to get through some thorns to experience the beauty of the rose. Even if that means differences of opinions.
Once I had to remind a family member that the beauty of the rose isn’t appreciated when it is rigidly closed but only when it opens up and allows the sunlight to shine so the petals unfurl their beauty.
The rose is not only the flower of the United States but of the world. It is a flower not only ritualized in sharing romantic and grateful feelings but also rich in symbolism.
As Douglas Bencer wrote, legend has it that the rose has a memorable back story. Chloris, goddess of flowers and springtime, (her name was Flora in Roman culture), stumbles upon a lifeless body of a woodland nymph. Saddened by the creature’s fate, she breathes life into it, transforming the nymph into a flower.
She calls out to Zephyrus, husband and keeper of the west wind, asking him to blow away the clouds in the sky so that Apollo might allow the sun to cast down its warming rays.
To this Aphrodite added beauty and Dionysus, the nectar of intoxicating aroma. The three Graces further bestowed upon the flower the gifts of charm, joy and splendor.
Aphrodite – known as Venus in Roman culture – and also the Goddess of Love then dedicated it to her beloved son, Eros, the God of Love.
In Roman culture, Eros was Cupid.
What this story conveys is that the rose is meant to encourage us to love. That must be the lesson all this week as the flowers bloom in your vase at home.
Because if you take the E away from EROS and put it as the end of his name – it will spell ROSE.
Even Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, touted the power of flowers, “Flowers are restful to look at,” he said. “They have neither emotions nor conflicts.”
Furthermore, Japanese scientists proved what we intuitively know. Smelling floral scents such as lavender, roses and other scents, alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that not only reduce stress levels but fight inflammation and depression and help induce sleep.
It’s not only hybrid red and white roses that are symbols to remind us to strive for unity and togetherness.
At U.S. weddings, we want something blue. Why? Turns out that blue represents trust and unity. Similar messages can be found in blue-hued flowers. And there are even blue-dyed roses.
Now more than ever, this week is a time to smell the roses.
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.
Photo credit: Pixabay