It's Valentine's day again, and shops are stocked with red roses. Why are they so popular? Find the real reason we give roses for Valentine's day here.

We all know roses are a big deal.

They can start and end relationships. Their symbolism features heavily in poetry and literature. There's a whole football game and parade named after them.

And have you seen how many rose tattoos are out there?

So it shouldn't be a surprise that roses for Valentine's Day outnumber every other flower, with 250 million roses produced specifically for the holiday every year.

But have you ever stopped to wonder why roses became the top Valentine's Day gift? Here's the scoop. 

Goddesses and Saints

It all started when Aphrodite met St. Valentine.

Okay, not really.

But the two have everything to do with how Valentine's Day and the flower most associated with love came to be a pair.

In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was the goddess of love, desire, and beauty. She fell in love with Adonis, who loved to hunt, and warned him not to pursue animals in his hunts that seemed unafraid. He didn't listen.

When Ares, the god of war and Aphrodite's ex, turned himself into a wild boar, Adonis took the bait and was killed. A distraught Aphrodite ran to his side, cutting her foot in the process. Her blood turned a nearby white rose red, transforming the flower into a symbol of love.

Then, in third-century Rome, a priest named Valentine landed in prison for performing wedding ceremonies. Emperor Claudius the II banned marriages because he thought men who had wives and families would shy away from going to war. When Valentine was caught defying his order, Claudius ordered him killed. 

While awaiting execution, Valentine managed to fall in love with the daughter of a jailor. His letter to her signed "From your Valentine" set a tradition in motion that picked up speed after he achieved sainthood.

The Language of Flowers

A Swedish king and a British aristocrat were also instrumental in the rise of the rose as the ultimate romantic gift.

In the 1700s, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of Britain's ambassador to Turkey, became fascinated with the local practice of using flowers and plants to send secret love messages. She sent word of her discovery back home to England, where it became a huge hit. 

Charles II, the king of Sweden and Norway, stumbled upon the use of flowers to express emotion when he visited Persia in the 1800s. His report that roses translated to true love spread quickly across Europe and became very popular.

Both of these discoveries led to the Victorian era's obsession with floriography, where people memorized flower dictionaries to send bouquets full of secret meaning. 

The Color of Love 

Roses are red; you know the rest. But what do all the colors mean according to the language of flowers?

Well, as Charles II learned, red roses are reserved for those we love or desire. Which explains the fact that 69% of all roses bought for Valentine's Day are red. And it's also the reason you might want to rethink giving red roses to your sister or grandma.

Pink roses are best for showing someone you think they're awesome and you're happy they're in your life. Perfect for co-workers, teachers, or that barista who knows your exact order without having to ask.

If you want to celebrate innocence or honor someone, send white roses. That's why they pop up in wedding bouquets and funeral wreaths.

Send yellow roses to symbolize friendship and happiness, and peach roses as a formal thank you to someone who had your back.

Of course, if you know your true love has a color preference - that's always the one to run with. 

It's Not All About the Romance

There are also some decidedly non-romantic reasons for roses becoming the queen of the Valentine's flower market, mostly to do with their ability to stay beautiful while traveling great distances.

Roses are tougher than flowers like lilies or tulips. This is a good thing since they are summer-blossoming flowers and Valentine's Day is a winter holiday. Most of the roses you see in stores around Valentines' Day have traveled thousands of miles from South America or Africa in just a few days to get there.

You could say it's a good thing Lady Montagu and King Charles didn't find out that irises were a symbol of passion and love. Or, maybe the heartiness of the rose symbolizes the strength of your love.

There, we made it romantic after all.

Limitless Gifting Potential

If you thought we were done with the secret language of roses, there's one more way to use them in place of words. Giving one rose can tell your Valentine you fell in love at first sight. While three roses say I love you, and 10 roses mean you think they're perfect.

And the number of ways to celebrate your relationship with Valentine roses has no limit. 

If you're going with multiple roses, spread them out and present them each hour of the day instead of in one bouquet.

Get creative by using rose petals as a romantic dinner centerpiece or as a pathway through the house.

Or go all out with a Gold-Dipped Eternity Rose to show them how highly you value their love.

Roses for Valentine's Day: A Romantic History

The story of how we came to think of roses for Valentine's Day as the ultimate gift of love is long and full of adventure and romance. And their secret meanings will let you send your Valentine a message of love without saying anything at all.

For more ideas on setting the stage for your perfect romantic Valentine's Day, check out our blog.