You may hear that a rose is a rose is a rose. While still a poetic sentiment, there is actually more meaning behind the color of the flowers you choose. The concept of assigning symbolic meaning to rose color has existed since ancient times. In Western civilization, the Victorian Era popularized the idea of communicating through the “language of flowers.” Men and women would consult flower dictionaries to choose and interpret appropriate flowers to send, wear, and display. Flowers had meaning based on both their species and their color. For example, the rose, in general, symbolized love. However different colors of roses representing different types of love. This Valentine’s Day, if you want to give a bouquet of roses, consider the symbolism of the color you select. To help, here are the meanings behind four of the most popular rose colors: red, white, yellow, and pink.

Red Rose

Red is the most common and popular color. As a declaration of love, it is not a surprise that the price of red roses can increase by $200 around Valentine’s Day in some regions. The red rose symbolizes beauty, passion, desire, and romantic love. As the ultimate symbol of love, red roses convey respect and the creative spirit of love, representing true love is stronger than thorns. Even the number of roses has a meaning. A dozen roses boldly declares, “I love you,” while a single red rose communicates devotion and loyalty.

You’ll find red roses all throughout mythology and literature. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, pricked her foot on the thorns of a white rose when she ran to her injured lover, Adonis. The blood stained the roses red, giving the color the symbol of incredible passion and romantic devotion. Cleopatra even seduced Mark Antony in a room covered in red rose petals. In literature, Scottish poet Robert Burns compared his love to a red, red rose. Outside of romantic contexts, red roses often convey congratulations or gratitude. You might give red roses to someone who has just done a stage performance or who has completed a big accomplishment like a graduation or major work project. Red roses can also be deployed to thank someone who has done something meaningful for you.

White Rose

In Victorian tradition, the deeper the rose color, the deeper the passion. A white one would be appropriate for a young girl or woman who has not felt deep or passionate love. Contradicting this statement, roses are also the symbol of a soul-deep love and can represent marriage. In fact, white roses are is often referred to as the bridal rose. A symbol of young love, this color is a token of early marriage. It also symbolizes truth and reverence, sending the message of loyalty and worth.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was born from the foam of the sea. It is said that the sea foam dripped from her body after she emerged from the ocean and turned into white roses. In Christianity, the white rose is associated with the Virgin Mary, giving it the meaning of innocence, chastity, and purity. Aside from marriage, white roses are also used for baptisms and confirmations. It is associated with spirituality, reverence, and new beginnings. Their quiet beauty is also used as a gesture of remembrance. For a reverent occasion, stately or somber, a bouquet of white roses is a perfect way to say, “I’m thinking of you.” The white rose is an appropriate funeral flower.

Yellow Rose

The yellow rose has experienced a significant shift in meaning over time. In Victorian times, yellow roses symbolized jealousy. It even went as far as accusing the recipient of infidelity. Today, yellow roses represent friendship, joy, and caring. Specifically, yellow roses mean platonic friendship. They may not be the best to send if you are romantically interested in someone. However, if you are sending a joyful message, yellow is your color. They represent cheer, joy and caring. Their warm, sunny disposition lights up a room, making them the perfect way to say thanks, get well, congratulations, or any friendly message. These sun-filled blossoms are a great congratulatory rose for a happy occasion. A new baby or an engagement are great reasons to send yellow roses.

Pink Rose

Pink roses have a broad range of symbolic associations. In general, pink roses symbolize admiration, gentleness, dignity, elegance, innocence, and happiness. Pink is a gentle, feminine color that can give different meanings based on the shade. Deep pink roses convey gratitude and appreciation. They made a great thank you gift. Paler shades signify grace, gentleness, admiration, and. Paler shades are also good for the beginning of a romance when red roses can come off too strongly. They are bright and beautiful while also being incredibly versatile. Pink roses can convey romantic or platonic messages. They are great flowers to send to your best friend, ffiancée or work friend, and are sure to create a bright spot for a special day. Pink roses are also appropriate for a girl or young woman, especially to convey congratulations or to commemorate a milestone.

While rose color may have lost some of it’s mean in the present day, they still convey the general meaning of love. Join in on this timeless tradition and send someone you love a bouquet of roses this Valentines Day!