Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the 14th February every year and is an internationally recognised pagan festival that actually started in Rome as far back as the year 496AD.
The day gets its name from St Valentine and whilst there are many stories as to who he was, the popular (and possibly most romantic) belief is that he was a priest from the 3rd Century AD who would arrange marriages in secret after the then Emperor, Claudius II had banned them. It was thought that married men made bad soldiers. When Claudius found out about these ceremonies, Valentine was thrown in jail and sentenced to death. Rumour has it that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was taken to be executed on the 14th February he sent her a love letter signed ‘from your Valentine’.
The Symbol of the Red Rose
Like many of our celebrations, the red rose started to become a symbol of love having been illustrated in both Greek and Roman iconography where it was tied to Aphrodite, or Venus, the goddess of love. Later it became associated with the virtue of the Virgin Mary. By the time William Shakespeare and Robert Burns pop up, it had already become a poetic standard that many toyed with in their writings. It was during the Victorian era, the practice of flower giving took on an added dimension with the advent of the ‘language of flowers’.
The Single Red Rose is still considered to be the most beautiful and romantic gesture and even dating back to the ancient roman times, lovers have given each other red roses as a symbol of love. So ever since then a single red rose would clearly state ‘I love you’.
The number of roses in a bouquet, however, also plays an important role in presenting this message of adoration and the most common denomination is a dozen red roses. This implies both love and appreciation.
So how did we get to 12? Well this number is often used to represent a complete cycle, such as 12 months of the year, 12 hours in a clock and 12 signs of the zodiac. In fact, the recurrence of the number twelve across the natural and spiritual world has given it a universally sacred and mystical quality – so what other number could you use?
You might feel that with chocolates being a second popular choice for Valentine’s Day, a pack containing 12 Cadbury Roses could be the ultimate gift of love. Unfortunately this might not be the case. Introduced by Cadbury in 1938, rather than being the ‘gift of love’ they are reportedly named after the English packaging equipment company ‘Rose Brothers’ that, at the time, were based in Gainsborough, Linc. They supplied the machines that individually wrapped each of the chocolates prior to being boxed and hence the reason why Cadbury allegedly adopted the name ‘Roses’.