The rose's meaning stems from the Victorian era, when floral bouquets studded with these blooms were used to deliver a message to love interests.
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Valentine's Day is a holiday all about honoring the loved ones in your life. Many choose to show their appreciation by exchanging chocolates, cards, and roses—one of the holiday's biggest motifs. But 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 a staple come February 14.

Florist wrapping Red Roses for Valentine's Day
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The History of Red Roses on Valentine's Day

Cultivation of this garden variety dates back to 5,000 years ago, when roses were grown in eastern Asia. The cultivar continued to grow in popularity during the Roman period; it was raised in the Middle East and used as perfume, party décor, and medicine. Most of the roses we see today, however, can be traced back to the late 1700s, when they began to trickle into Europe.

The flowers connection to Valentine's Day harkens back to the 19th century, when Victorians used floral bouquets to deliver a message to love interests. This system is called "floriography" and officially solidified the red rose's romantic status, says Kate Greenway, author of The Language of Flowers.

Roses Have Strong Symbolism

Beyond Valentine's Day, roses are popular choices for weddings, anniversaries, and other romantic occasions. The cultivar is even a way of saying "I'm sorry" to a loved one who was wronged. Their popularity is due in part to their strong emotional symbolism, according to rose experts out of University of Illinois Extension. Red roses in particular have stood the test of time across cultures, representing ideals of beauty, love, romance, and even politics.

Each Rose Color Has a Different Meaning

Yes, this flower is an expression of love all on its own—but its color can convey different messages. 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, the rose remains an ideal and timeless choice—just choose the shade that best represents how you feel about the recipient.

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