Flower Gardening, Vintage Jewelry

The Christmas Rose

I love long stem rose brooches, and I recently added two Vintage Giovanni Roses in my Etsy shop.  Known as “The Christmas Rose Brooch”, they were made by the Longcraft Company under the trademark GIOVANNI in 1966.  The Longcraft company was founded in Boston in 1878 by Thomas Long.  The company exists today under the name Long’s Jewelers.  The brooches originally came with a silk lined box and a Christmas poem card titled “Legend of the Christmas Rose” written by Virginia McElroy Anderson which I have typed below:

“With spices rare and gifts of gold
The wise men journeyed far –
Called forth by prophecy of old,
led onward by a star –

Shepherds left there flocks at night
to seek the new-born King –
With cuddled lambs sped toward the light,
their humble gifts to bring –

A shepherd girl in silence wept
no gift to give had she –
Then by the crib where Jesus slept,
watched she miraculously –

Where tears of sorrow downward flowed
stood blooms of crystal bright –
She gently woke the babe and showed
to him the marvelous sight –

His little blessed hands reached out
to touch the fragile gems –
Before those gathered all about,
the blossoms and the stems

In glorious color bloomed alive,
each dew-dropped with a tear –
Thus, did the Christmas rose arrive
to bloom anew each year.”

There are multiple stories that have been passed down through generations about the legend.   A well known book about the legend is “The Legend of the Christmas Rose” by Selma Lagerlöf published in 1910.  The book is about an outlaws wife who reveals a miracle flower that blooms Christmas Eve in remembrance of the birth of Christ in order to get her husband pardoned.  If you are interested in reading it, a reproduction of the book can be found on Amazon in hardback and paperback.

All of the stories and legends of the Christmas Rose are based on the evergreen perennial flower plant Helleborus niger, or Hellebore as it is more commonly known, that blooms during the winter to early spring in european climates. Hence, the Christmas rose.  

Hellebore or “Christmas Rose”, scientific name:  Helleborus niger

This past summer I purchased a hellebore I found on sale at my local garden center.  I regret to say, it did not make it in the Southern heat.  I believe I planted it in too much sun, but I hope to get a new one soon and will try growing it again in a different spot.  Hellebores generally grow 9–12 inches tall, and have large flat white, purple, or pink flowers.  The tips of the flower can have a pink or green tint and the center of the flower is yellow.  Interestingly enough, it is prized among gardeners because it is the first flower to bloom in the spring even though it is poisonous.  It contains protoanemonin and ranunculin which is released if the plant is picked or wounded.  Skin contact can cause a rash and blistering.  Ingestion  can cause nausea and vomiting, dizziness and spasms, acute hepatitis and jaundice, or paralysis.

I think the Hellebore is a beautiful plant.  The hybrids are called Lenten Rose or Helleborus x hybridus.  The lenten name comes from the fact that the hybrid flower blooms in early spring during Lent, which is observed by some Christian denominations.  If I can find another one this spring, I would like to try growing one again.  Here are some pictures of Hellebore hybrids:

Hellebore Christmas Rose Helleborus niger

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And a chromolithograph with a prayer about the Hellebore:

prayer and chromolithograph.jpg
No. 6., Heleborus niger (German-Christ flower) Chromolithograph by Helga von Cramm & prayer by Y.E.T., c. 1880  published by C. Caswell (public domain)

The following two long stem rose brooches are available in my Etsy Shop.

Vintage Red Rose Brooch signed Giovanni – Gold Tone Enamel Long Stem Rose Gift for Mom by Longcraft c. 1966
Vintage Silver Rose Brooch signed Giovanni – Gold Tone Enamel Long Stem Rose Gift for Mom by Longcraft c. 1966

Each brooch is approximately 2.5 inches long by 1.5 inches wide. They are both very beautiful and make a special meaningful gift for someone that loves timeless vintage jewelry.

The following sold earlier this year. I am currently searching for a yellow one.

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