Four women stand in expensive evening gowns, two gripping long-stemmed roses; two waiting to be chosen. There is only one rose left, and somebody is going home. The Bachelor slowly picks up the flower, thinks and names his desired female. The chosen woman proudly walks forward to accept her rose while the rejected woman hangs her head.
224 million roses were grown last year for Valentine’s Day purchases, according to CNN on Feb. 14, 2013. Of all floral purchases, 51 percent were for red roses.
So what is with the rose? Throughout history, the rose has become a universal symbol of romance; a symbol still recognized today.
The rose began as a symbol of power. In 1455, the War of the Roses began between the houses of Lancaster and York, fighting for the English throne. The colors of roses symbolized different power, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. White represented York and red represented Lancaster.
Uses for the rose shifted to recreational pleasure in Europe in the 1700s, according to HeritageRoses.com. Empress Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, used to grow roses on her estate for viewing. She created the first rose garden in the early 1800s, and because of her influence in Europe, roses became fashionable and esteemed.
The connection between roses and romance goes back to ancient times.
The red rose was closely linked to the goddess of love in Greek and Roman mythology, according to ProfessionalFlowers.com, and many early cultures used red roses to decorate marriage ceremonies. Through practices like these, the red rose developed into a symbol of love and even fidelity.
The romantic symbol of roses has been experienced on campus, especially around Valentine’s Day.
Concordia nursing major Kate Hauble received roses last year for Valentine’s Day.
“I hung out with this guy, and he thought we were more than friends,” she said. “He sent me sixty pieces of chocolate and roses. When I got the notification slip, I prayed they were from my mom. I had to tell him I wasn’t interested.”
According to Hauble, there is pressure for males to give roses when they are feeling strongly toward someone, and it is a stereotype she believes society has developed.
“Because of shows like The Bachelor, it’s almost expected of guys (to give roses), which I don’t agree with,” she said. “Every girl wants to say that she’s gotten roses before. It’s what girls talk about.”
Sophomore Lily Mackenzie-Olson received roses from her boyfriend seven months into their relationship.
“Everybody kind of knows that if you’re going to show somebody you love them, a red rose is a staple,” she said. “The gesture is the most important part.”
Senior Allyssa Mattson sees at least one or two flower deliveries a week while she works the Information Desk in Knutson, but she said roses are typically saved for Valentine’s Day.
“I’ve always viewed roses as a symbol of romance. You always see rose petals on a bed or in a bathtub for a romantic evening or roses given to someone on anniversaries and (Valentine’s Day). Maybe it’s the scent or the touch of a rose that also sparks the image of romance.”
Mattson agrees that there is some pressure for males to send flowers, but she does not think the pressure is negative.
“When guys send flowers (it’s apparent that) they want to pursue the girl. Giving flowers is not a complicated gesture, but it makes such a huge impact,” she said.
Sophomore Spencer Nelson recognizes the pressure behind sending roses.
“It’s a culture thing,” he said. “You’re supposed to give flowers when it will make people happy, but there’s extra pressure on Valentine’s Day.”
Hauble wishes there wasn’t so much pressure for guys to give flowers.
“It should be done because someone wants to, not because a holiday says (males) should,” she said.
Nelson names the media as a source of the pressure surrounding giving roses.
“This is all due to passed down traditions,” he said. “But let me tell you, it would take someone I really care about to drop $60 on roses.”
A quick Google search showed the cost of a dozen roses can range anywhere from $20-$500.
According to YellowPages.com, there are ten flower shops within ten minutes of Concordia.
Hauble did keep the gifts given from her misguided secret admirer but still feels bad about the situation.
“I couldn’t eat the chocolate because it tasted like guilt.”
Karen Besonen is a senior Multimedia Journalism major, originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota.
She is an enthusiast of music, along with keeping a personal blog and following the action on Capital Hill. She has a passion for traveling and philanthropic work, and with her degree, she hopes to work for a Christian nonprofit that fights the trafficking and exploitation of children.