William Shakespeare said the rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. The rose is a universal symbol of beauty. With its fragrant scent, the beautiful-looking flower has been synonymous with beauty, love, and joy. 

If someone is asked to name a flower, the chances that the rose would be named are very high. Roses are the most commonly grown flowers in homes, parks, and gardens. 

While the red rose is famously associated with love, the white rose has a special meaning. The article looks at these flowers’ meaning and the significance of gifting white roses.

The white rose—history

Roses are believed to have originated from the Greek deity Adonis. They believed that all roses were white before it was stained red with the blood of Adonis. It is the national flower of England and has a special place in English history. 

Roses have a special cultural significance. They have presented love and beauty from time immemorial. There are 150 species of roses with hundreds of hybrids. 

There are different colors of roses available. The red rose has been associated with love and romance. Just as famous as the red rose is the white rose. The white rose meaning is purity and innocence.

Roses have had a special place in culture across the world, starting with the Greek culture. The Romans believed that the white rose meant love and beauty. They even celebrated a festival of roses. 

The Koran, the holy book of Islam, has references linking the white rose to paradise. The Hindus use the white rose to worship the Goddess of knowledge Saraswati, who is always depicted wearing white. In Christianity, the white rose has been associated with the Virgin Mary. She is referred to as the Mystical Rose of heaven.

The significance of white roses

Of the various colors, white has always been associated with purity, light and brightness and linked with innocence. Virtually every culture has considered white as the color of peace, divinity, and purity. Angels have been depicted as wearing white clothes.

Similarly, the white rose means purity. During medieval times, gardens would have abundant white roses. The reason for this was the symbolism of the white rose representing the Virgin Mary.

Interestingly, roses have been linked to secrecy. People would discuss confidential matters in gardens with white roses as these flowers were correlated to confidentiality. The phrase ‘sub rosa’ originated with people discussing secrets under a roof with roses hung on it. 

One of the most significant symbolism of the white rose is its association with marriages. Brides wear white to signify purity. In the same way, white roses are used in marriages as a mark of purity.

White rose for marriages and funerals

The white rose is called a bridal rose. It signifies purity in the new relationship the bride is about to enter. The white rose meaning in marriages is purity and trust in relationships. 

It is believed that the use of white roses in marriages started in 1840 when none other than Queen Victoria used them for her wedding. Since then, the use of white roses has been popular at weddings. 

Apart from weddings, white roses are sometimes used in funerals. Here, the white is used to show reverence for the dead. In this situation, white is considered the color of spirituality. It is a mark of respect for the dead person and conveys a farewell from the earthly to the spiritual world.

Some other meanings of white rose

There are some other references to white roses that are found in history. The white rose also has other symbolic meanings. These include:

  • Long ago, white roses were associated with love. Men who wished to woo a woman would give her a bouquet of white roses. It signified a new beginning through the courtship. It is later on that, red roses became popular as an expression of love.
  • In many cultures, the white rose is first given to signify the start of a relationship. If the relationship blossoms, then red roses are gifted to express love.
  • White roses are also used on other occasions like christening ceremonies and anniversaries. It is universally considered the symbol of purity and innocence.
  • The white rose’s meaning is also linked to hope. White roses at a wedding represent hope for a new beginning and future.
  • The white rose has a special significance in Germany. During Nazi rule, a student group was known as the white rose. This group believed in nonviolent opposition to Hitler’s rule. The white here symbolizes peace and the pure intentions of the group.
  • White roses have been used in some places as confetti. They were thrown during celebrations as a sign of success.
  • The Romans used the oil extracted from the white rose to prepare perfume.
  • In ancient times, the white rose was even used as a currency.
  • The white rose was the symbol of the House of York. The War of Roses was fought between the House of York and the House of Lancaster (represented by a red rose).
  • The Order of the white rose was a society founded in 1886. Writers and artists formed it.

The white rose has a deep significance in culture and history. In modern times, the white rose is used as a symbol of youthful innocence. It even signifies friendship that is based on a pure foundation.

Gifting the white rose—what it means

Men have been gifting roses to women from time immemorial. Gifting a red rose is considered a love offering. It used to be given by men who wanted to woo a woman. 

The white roses have a special meaning when it comes to gifting. The white rose has been considered a gift of purity rather than love. Let us look at the white rose’s meaning when it comes to its use as a gift.

Ways to gift white roses

While gifting a red rose has lots of meaning, like being the gift of love that expresses romantic feelings for someone special, the white rose can also be gifted in many ways.

  • In early times, the white rose was a gift of friendship. It was gifted to both friends and to someone you love.
  • You can give a white rose to someone as an expression of trust in them; it need not necessarily be a gift from a man to a woman. It can be given to a teacher, mentor, friend, colleague, boss, or even to a dear family member.
  • It is a sign of hope and an indication that you want to make a beginning in a relationship. The relationship need not be love but can be of friendship and respect.
  • If you want to give a gift to a loved one (even a special person), a safe gift is a bouquet of white roses. A white rose conveys a neutral message. It is not a direct expression of love but respect and trust. It is a gift that allows you to express your respect and shows purity in your thoughts.
  • If you are interested in someone, you can give them white roses. It can be the start of a friendship with a base of pure respect and trust. Once the gift is accepted, you can continue to give white roses to signify the purity of the relationships and your hopes for them. Since the white rose marks a new beginning, it is significant in a relationship.
  • If you are visiting the home of someone who has lost a family member, you can carry white roses. It is a mark of reverence for the departed soul. It is a message to the family of hope and faith in the universe to help them recover from their grief.
  • If a friend or family member is sick, then gifting a white rose is your way of expressing hope that they will recover. It symbolizes revival and the expectation of restoring balance in life.
  • You can even gift white roses to be used for decorative purposes. White roses in an office or home create a sense of peace, tranquility, and purity.
  • It is an ideal gift to carry for a party or event. They can use it for decoration or place it in a vase. It is best suited for housewarming or christening ceremonies.


With the history behind the white rose, there’s no wonder it became one of the most popular flowers of choice for some of life’s biggest and most transitional moments.

Gifting white roses expresses purity, hope, and expectations for a new beginning. You can give this gift to anyone you respect, love, or trust.

The next time you plan to give flowers as a gift at a wedding, graduation, or funeral, white roses are a perfect choice.