Why Do We Give Roses for Valentine's Day?
Have you ever wondered why the rose is such a popular Valentine's Day flower? As it turns out, there are a variety of reasons why it's such a staple come February 14, and these include the rose's meaning, rich history, and high market demand. But these blossoms go beyond the love-centric holiday: The florals are found in full bloom for weddings, anniversaries, and romantic occasions alike; they are even a way of saying "sorry" to a loved one who was wronged. The popularity is due in part to the strong symbolism attached, according to rose experts out of University of Illinois Extension. Red roses have stood the test of time across cultures, representing ideals of beauty, love, romance, and even politics.
For Valentine's Day, a holiday filled with plenty of traditions, including the exchange of chocolates and cards, the rose is a mainstay. While there are other flowers that can be given for this romantic event, including lilies, ranunculus, orchids, and tulips, red roses are the undeniable winner. Ask florists across the country and they'll tell you that these beautiful red blooms are still among the most popular flower to share with a special someone on February 14.
But how exactly does the rose's meaning represent Valentine's Day? It harkens back to the 19th century, when Victorians used floral bouquets to deliver a message to love interests—that they were, in fact, interested. According research by Kate Greenway, which she published in her glossary-style book The Language of Flowers ($6.95, amazon.com), this system is called "floriography," and it officially solidified the rose's romantic status. However, cultivation of this garden variety dates back to 5,000 years ago in eastern Asia. Later in the Roman period, they were raised in the Middle East and used as perfume, party décor, and medicine. Most of the roses we see today can be traced back to the late 1700s, when they began to trickle into Europe.
The flower itself may not be the only reason for its expression of love. The color of traditional roses, red, represents passion. Interestingly, the pink rose stands for appreciation and grace, the yellow iteration conveys friendship and happiness, and the white one implies innocence. Whatever you're trying to communicate this Valentine's Day—letting your mom, friend, or spouse know you love them, for example—the rose remains an ideal (and timeless) choice.