“The soft rose. It is the breath of the gods and the joy of mortals, the glory of the Kharites (Graces) in spring-time, the delight of the Erotes (Loves) with their rich garlands and of Aphrodite; it is a subject for poetry and the graceful plant of the Mousai.”
The Anacreontea, Fragment 35 (Greek lyric B.C)
The rose is the symbol of love and passion, death and sorrow. The two opposites are undeniably interconnected – without the one, the other cannot exist. The greatest pain and sorrow can reveal the greatest love and beauty. Breathtaking, stunning, horrifying beauty. Love that makes your heart bleed, and leaves eternal scars. Love that heals. Universal symbols, all encaptured by the rose. The beautiful flowers and enchanting perfume are luring you in, but not without protection. The rose lets you close enough to admire its exquisiteness, but if you get too close, the thorns will cut you and leave dark red streams on pale skin.
It seems so tender and fragile, but in vulnerability lies strength. Because the rose is no push-over. Wild roses have been around for over 35 million years, since the tertiary period, and survived nature`s ever changing climates and conditions. The small, pink flowers have been blooming long before humans roamed the earth, and have stood as a silent witness to nature`s evolution, accumulating stories of tragedies and triumphs, and loves lost and found.
The women of the Stone Age might have decorated their hair with rose flowers, celebrating their youth and femininity. Maybe they even taught their children how to collect the tender petals, and gently drying them to brew strengthening tonics for the cold and hard winter months. Personally, I love it when the pink flowers blossom in the beginning of summer. The simplicity and beauty of patiently waiting for the season to reveal its treasures, and thereafter collecting them from Mother Nature herself gives me a joyous feeling. A feeling of being in sync with that which is around me.
The rose is the flower of Aphrodite, the great Greek goddess of love, beauty and procreation. It is said that the white rose was created when the newly born Aphrodite rose from the sea. Each drop of water that fell from her skin transformed into a white rose the moment it hit the ground, thus representing her purity and innocence.
Years later, when she was trying to help her wounded lover, Adonis, she ran through the forest blinded by love while thorns sliced her feet. She flew to his side, but his wounds were fatal, and she was too late. In the moments before his death, their tears and blood blended and made small streams on the ground, coloring the white roses surrounding them deep red. Thus, the red rose became a symbol of true love, passion and desire.
Ever since the first man, the flower has been praised and admired. Remains have been found in tombs of the ancient Egyptians, and it was grown in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and in King Salomons` temple. Cleopatra covered her palace floors with rose petals to impress Marc Anthony of Rome – as we know with great success. However, the Egyptian queen was not alone in her admiration of the magical rose.
The old Romans had a tradition of letting rose petals flow from the ceiling during elegant banquets, and I can only imagine the wonder and excitement that followed. According to legend, Marcus Aurelius Antonius, later known as Emperor Heliogabalus was known among his contemporaries for his extreme eccentricity and decadence, and he had quite a morbid sense of humor. During one of these grand banquets he drowned and smothered his unsuspecting guests in rose petals as entertainment for himself and his friends. A dramatic death indeed.
Needless to say, I am quite fascinated by the beautiful rose flower and the legends and stories connected to it. However, it is not only one of the most stunning and delicate flowers there is with a complex and fascinating story, it is also known for its medicinal properties.
In fact, roses were grown in medieval gardens primarily for medicine and food purposes, and throughout the decades it has been used against sore throat, digestive problems, menstruating cramps and headaches. The Chinese used the flowers as a stimulant of the Qi (energy flow) in the body, and as a blood tonic to relieve stagnant liver energies.
This juice is therefore a great addition to your summer diet. What´s better, it is also incredibly fresh and tasty. It is more dry than sweet, something I personally like when it comes to rose juice. As my friend Pernille put it; it tastes as wild roses smell. However, it is not too perfumed, but perfectly light and crisp. All in all, it is an impeccable and cooling summer tonic, excellent for hot days.
Wild Rose Juice
250 grams wild rose petals (4 liters/17 cups)
6 ¾ cups (1,6 liter) water
80 grams dates (about 7 dates)
1-2 tbsp beetroot juice (for color)
Add the dates and water to a pot and let it reach boiling point. Stir until the dates have dissolved. Add the rose petals, and stir again. Turn down the heat, and let the mixture simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring once in a while. Because of the dates, the juice will have a brownish color. If you would like a pink-colored finish, add some beetroot juice. You don´t need a juicer for this. Use a grater instead, and squeeze the juice from the grated beetroots with your fingers. Let the wild rose juice cool and store on a glass bottle. When serving, fill 1/4 of the glass with rose juice, and the remaining 3/4 with cold water and ice cubes.