This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, a tradition that has become synonymous with the red rose,

But why?

Let’s first look at the origins of Valentines. It is believed to date back to the times of Chaucer, (1382) he wrote the Parliament of Fowls which celebrates the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia;

"For this was on Saint Valentine's Day
When every bird comes there to choose his match
Of every kind that men may think of
And that so huge a noise they began to make
That earth and air and tree and every lake
Was so full, that not easily was there space
For me to stand—so full was all the place."

In Sweden King Charles II began to explore the ‘language of flowers’ or ‘floriography’ this expressionist art focused on the ability to communicate using flowers without words.

In this process he learned certain symbolisms associated with certain flowers, for instance, giving somebody a yellow carnation symbolised their disappointment, giving a purple hyacinth was seen as an apology and the red rose was seen as a declaration of love.

Why the red rose?

red roseIn Greek mythology it is said that rose bushes grew from the ground through the tears of Aphrodite and the blood of her lover Adonis. The Romans made Aphrodite their goddess Venus and kept the Rose as her symbol of love and beauty. This association made the red rose synonymous with love.




In many countries Valentines is seen as a friendship day or a day of gifting sweets.

In J.K Rowling’s book Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone Professor Severus Snape uses the language of flowers to express regret and mourning for the death of Lilly Potter.

In ‘Of Mice and Men’ by John Steinbeck, Chrysanthemums are used to symbolise optimism and lost love.

  • Daffodils signify new beginnings, hence the use at Easter.
  • Daisies resonate with innocence.
  • Belladonna was representative of silence. (often used in murder mystery’s!)
  • Clematis equalled poverty.

And so the list goes on, for a full list and an interesting read reference The Old Farmer’s Almanac.



The language of flowers is fascinating the idea that things we grow have a whole language and communication line of their own is both wondrous and fulfilling.

The next time you give flowers or grow flowers think about their meaning and prophecy.


yellow carnation