Thinking of purchasing a bouquet of roses for your loved one this Valentine Day?

By now you've probably noticed a strong link between love and red roses, making the red bloom the obvious Valentine Day flower of choice, but have you ever wondered why we give roses on Valentine's Day? Or why we celebrate Valentine’s Day altogether?

The association between red roses, celebrating Valentine’s Day and romance is a surprisingly recent one:

The art of expressing emotions through different types of flowers was created in the Victorian era by giving flowers symbolic meanings. This symbolic tradition is called floriography or the ‘language of flowers’.

Each type of flower and colour communicated a unique message to the flower receiver. The interest in floriography was created to express emotion due to strict Victorian social etiquette. Flower dictionaries were created and published, detailing each flower's meaning, how to present and combine flowers to communicate the intended message. The red rose signified an expression of true love or passion, hence its association with giving red roses on Valentine's Day.

So, how did Valentine’s Day actually start?

There are many differing origin stories for Valentine’s Day, which all carry with them a message of love, chaos and passion.

One story tells us that Emperor Claudius II is reported to have killed two men named Valentine, making martyrs of them, and the Catholic Church celebrated their sacrifice with Saint Valentine’s Day.

Another describes Valentinus as a roman priest, who performed secret marriages for young lovers after they were outlawed. Apparently, Valentinus fell in love with the jailor's daughter and signed a love letter “From Your Valentine”, before being executed for his crimes against the church. Many years later, literary figures like Shakespeare romanticised the day in fiction, growing in popularity through romantic literature and signing off as your Valentine.

The oldest surviving Valentine is a poem composed in French from 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife, sent after being imprisoned in the Tower of London. The second, an English poem composed by a woman in 1477 to her fiancé.

Along with the tradition of giving flowers to express affection, the Victorians were the first to produce elaborate Valentine’s cards to express affection and make the giving of cards common practice. This European tradition was eventually carried over to the USA and sparked the mass production of romantic cards by Ester Howland and Hallmark in the 1800s, marking the consumer holiday that we now know as Valentine’s Day.

To this day red roses and Valentine’s Day cards remain the major symbols of the holiday and the expression of love.

Visit your local floral retailer to helps secure the best blooms this Valentine’s Day for a loved one.

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