With its pristine appearance, the white rose has come to symbolize purity, innocence and secrecy. There are myths and legends from several different cultures relating to the origin of the first rose which is initially white in color and is then miraculously transformed. Oftentimes the pure white rose was depicted as being stained by blood, or made to blush from a kiss. The recurrence of this theme does a great deal to establish the white rose as a symbol for purity.
Early traditions also used white roses as a symbol for true love, an association which would later become the hallmark of the red rose. However, white roses continue to endure and retain their symbolism of innocence. White roses are now used to express a number of different sentiments.
Also known as the bridal rose, the white rose is a traditional wedding flower. In this sense, they are a representation of unity, virtue, and the pureness of a new bond of love. White roses are also a symbol for young love, which further strengthens the association, and makes them ideal for marriages. Bridal bouquets are often comprised of white roses and other white flowers.
White roses are also associated with honor and reverence, which makes them a fitting memorial for a departed loved one. Funeral and sympathy arrangements traditionally incorporate white roses as a part of the tribute. As a symbol of remembrance, the white rose represents heavenliness and is an expression of spiritual love and respect.
While most of the long-established meanings of white roses are still quite commonly used today, others have become less prevalent. White rosebuds, for example, are a traditional symbol for girlhood and carry an underlying message of one too young for love. While perhaps no longer falling into the realm of common knowledge, this is still very much a part of the language of roses.
White roses can mean many things to many different people. They can symbolize new beginnings, or be a sign of farewell. They can convey feelings of love, friendship, respect and hope. Underlying all of these messages is the impression of innocence and purity with which white roses are now synonymous. An arrangement of white roses is not only beautiful; it can carry a complexity that belies its simpler appearance. Whatever the reason white roses are given, it can be assured that they will be deeply appreciated by their recipient.