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Valentine’s Day Colors – What Red, White & Pink Mean on Valentine’s Day

With February 14th quickly approaching, Valentine’s Day colors are starting to appear everywhere. It seems almost everything is a shade of red, pink, or white!

Every February, bunches of red roses fill flower stalls, white chocolate covered cookies line grocery store shelves, and pink cocktails make an appearance at Galentine’s Day parties.

It’s nearly impossible to escape seeing Valentine’s Day colors, and there’s a good reason why. Color plays an important role in our lives.

It can influence our emotions, hold symbolism, meaning, and in some cases, even illicit a physiological response.

Let’s dive in and learn more about the colors that symbolize Valentine’s Day, what they represent, and how they came to be associated with the holiday. 

If you’re interested in color symbolism, make sure you check out our guide to the colors of Mardi Gras too!

A pink background with red hearts on it and a text overlay that reads "The ultimate guide to Valentine's Day colors and their meanings on Always The Holidays".

What is floriography?

Throughout time, colors have long history of being used as symbols, and as a method of communication. In the 19th century, people in Victorian England and the United States would convey messages using floriography.

They would send bouquets of different colored flowers, each combination holding its own meaning (usually of love or adoration). The recipient would use a floral dictionary to translate the flower’s message.

A pink microphone with pink flowers and green leaves coming out of it to symbolize floriography (the language of flowers) against an aqua blue background.

We don’t use floriography extensively in modern times, but it is still widely believed that each color of roses has a different meaning. Check out these fun facts about roses learn more interesting flower trivia!

In addition to different colors of flowers having different meanings, many flowers hold religious symbolism as well.

Roses are one of only three flowers mentioned in the bible; the others are lilies and crocus (a member of the iris family). Dogwood flowers and palm branches also have religious meaning and are both symbols of Easter.

What is color theory?

Though floriography is an ancient practice, we still heavily utilize colors in communication. Filmmakers, designers, artists and advertisers use what is called “color theory” to evoke emotions and subtly convey messages to their audiences.

Every color of the rainbow has a different meaning, and can be used to generate a different feeling.

Have you ever noticed walking into a room containing blue accent pieces, and suddenly feeling calm and relaxed? Maybe you’ve walked into a room with yellow accents and have noticed feeling positive and happy.

A wheel with the different colors of the psychology of colors and their meanings written on top.

While watching a dramatic movie, you might have observed that the colors on screen are dark and feel ominous. Some tv shows even associate specific colors with characters to influence the way we perceive them (Breaking Bad is a great example of a show that does this).

If you’ve picked up on any of these subtle messages you’ve been observing color theory! 

What are the Valentine’s Day colors?

Now that you know a little about how colors can evoke emotions, and be used to communicate, let’s learn about the three Valentine’s Day colors and what they mean!

Roses in different Valentines colors, starting with light pink, moving down to magenta, and then deep red.

Red is the color most frequently associated with the holiday. It is also a color that makes an appearance in many other holidays. When combined with green, it represents Christmas, and when combined with blue and white, it symbolizes the fourth of July.

Of course the holiday we are talking about is Valentine’s Day which is represented by the colors red, pink and white.

As Valentine’s Day is holiday of love, it’s no surprise that the three Valentine’s colors symbolize love. However, each color correlates to a different kind of love.

The meaning of the color red

When it comes to relationships, red symbolizes romance, passion, lust and desire. A bold and strong color, red is a symbol of romantic love, which is why we see red hearts everywhere on Valentine’s Day.

Ever wonder why so many red roses are given on Valentine’s Day? Red roses symbolize true love, passion, romance, and desire – making this rose the perfect gift for your soulmate on Valentine’s Day.

In addition to being a symbol of love, red is also a color linked to luck, weddings and marriage. In some Eastern countries like China and India, red is the preferred color of bridal wedding attire.  

A Valentine's Day present wrapped in red wrapping paper with a red bow, next to red roses on a red background.

In India, red symbolizes the Hindu goddess Durga who represents feminine strength, power and new beginnings. It is traditional, in India, for brides to wear a saffron red bridal lehenga. Lehengas are ankle length skirts, often embroidered and embellished.

In China, red symbolizes luck, prosperity and fortune. For this reason, brides often wear a red cheongsam (also called a qipao). A cheongsam is a form fitting dress, with a high neck.

In addition to symbolizing luck and love, red is also the color of blood. Blood pumps through our hearts, which throughout time, have been believed to be the home of our emotions and feelings. This link between blood and the heart supports red’s romantic symbolism.

Blood is also historically significant to Valentine’s Day. Two of the major historical events surrounding the holiday heavily featured blood. These events inform the meaning of the color red on Valentine’s Day.

Lupercalia festival

The first historical link to blood and Valentine’s Day was a Pagan festival in ancient Rome called Lupercalia. In this festival of fertility, held annually on February 15, a Roman priesthood called the Luperci would sacrifice male goats and a dog.

Blocks that read Febuary 15 on an aqua wooden background to show the date of the Lupercalia festival.

The priesthood would then smear the sacrificial blood of these animals on the foreheads of two naked Lupercai. While the Lupercai laughed, they would wipe off the blood with a wool cloth soaked in milk.

The goat’s skin would then be cut into strips and the naked Lupercai would run around the Palatine Hill, where Lupercalia was held, whipping women with the goat’s skin. Women would welcome the whippings, as it was thought to increase fertility, especially in barren women.

The incorporation of blood into this fertility festival is one of the earliest links to Valentine’s Day and the color red. This connection informs the meaning of the color red on Valentine’s Day. 

Who is St. Valentine?

Another way red is tied to blood and Valentine’s Day stems from Saint Valentine himself! There is some confusion to the real identity of Saint Valentine, as record keeping from the time indicates there are several people who could actually be St. Valentine.

A statue of St Valentine in a church with lots of taper candles at the foot of the statue.

In one of the accounts, Saint Valentine was a priest during the time of Emperor Claudius II’s rule. The emperor also referred to as “Claudius the Cruel” put high importance on a strong military.

He thought men would be less likely want to join the military if they were married and had a family, so he banned all proposals, engagements and marriages.

St Valentine, a Roman priest, went against the emperor’s mandate. Keeping love alive, St Valentine married Christian couples in secret. The emperor eventually discovered his defiance and beheaded him on February 14th.

This beheading is another link between blood, Valentine’s Day, and love. All three of these things inform the meaning of the color red and its relation to Valentine’s Day. 

The meaning of the color white

White is another Valentine’s Day color you’ll see in abundance this February. The meaning of the color white is purity, innocence, eternal love and love for the divine.

If you get your partner a bouquet of white roses for Valentine’s Day, you’re telling them that your love for them is pure and eternal. For this reason, white roses are a popular choice of wedding flower.

White paper roses against a white background.

Brides in Western countries commonly wear white wedding dresses. Historically, the connection between the color white and its meaning of purity signified a bride’s virginity.

There is also a strong religious component to the meaning of the color white. It is thought to signify heaven, the divine, and holiness.

White doves are used to represent religious messengers, and are frequently depicted in sacred paintings, buildings and sculptures. In Christianity, white light has long been a symbol of divine love and God’s protection. 

Valentine’s colors – red and white together

Red and white both have distinct individual meanings, but when used together, they often symbolize unity. 

One historical example of this is during the War of the Roses, where the red and white Tudor Rose was created. Check out our post with rose facts to learn the history of the Tudor Rose.

A woman in a wedding dress holding a bouquet of red and white roses, meaning unity and eternal love.

The colors red and white also connect to Valentine’s Day, symbolically, through another depiction of Saint Valentine. Like the previous account, this version also found Saint Valentine rebelling against emperor Claudius II.

However in this iteration of the tale, Saint Valentine’s crime was not defined as marrying Christians, but instead categorized as evangelizing in general. 

He was arrested and brought to Claudius II. When Saint Valentine refused to denounce denounce Jesus, he was sentenced to death. He was beheaded on February 14, which would later become Saint Valentine’s Day.

In this story, red represents blood shed by Saint Valentine, and white represents holiness and divine love. With this color interpretation, red and white have symbolically been linked to Valentine’s Day since 270 AD.

The meaning of the color pink

Since red and white are Valentine’s Day colors, it makes sense that their union, the color pink, would also represent Valentine’s Day.

Where red symbolizes passion, and white symbolizes purity, the two colors combine to yield a playful, soft and sweet version of love.

This playful quality contrasts red’s deep power, and white’s ethereal elegance. Because of the color pink’s youthful and joyous feel, it is often associated with childhood, and young love.

A pink box with pink heart shaped balloons coming out of it against a pink background.

The meaning of the color pink is found in qualities often associated with femininity, like compassion, kindness and beauty.

Many flowers, which are commonly used as symbols of beauty, come in pink hues. Some popular pink flowers are carnations, peonies, cherry blossoms, tulips and roses.

While not as popular as red roses, pink roses still have strong symbolism. They are a good choice to give in the early stages of relationships, because they represent innocent love. Pink roses also make good thank-you gifts, as they symbolize gratitude, and adoration.

The meaning of the color pink makes this hue a great choice of Valentine’s Day colors, if you want to express playful, compassionate, young love. 

Facts about Valentine’s Day colors

Add to your knowledge of Valentine’s Day colors by checking out the fun facts below. Some may surprise you!

Heart shaped balloons in Valentine's Day colors like pink, red and white filling the entire photo.

  • While white wedding dresses are popular in Western countries, bridal attire is traditionally red in Eastern countries like China and India. In those countries white is sometimes associated with funerals, whereas red symbolizes luck, prosperity, abundance and new beginnings.
  • In 1979, Alexander Schauss created a shade of pink called Baker-Miller Pink (also called P-618, and Drunk Tank Pink). Believing that the color pink would lessen physical strength and aggressive behavioral patterns, he got a Naval correctional institute to paint some walls of the institute this color to test his theory. Other prisons also began painting cells pink due to his hypothesis.
  • In Greek mythology, Aphrodite (the goddess of love, beauty and fertility) created the first red rose. She was in love with a mortal named Adonis. One day, he was fatally wounded by a wild boar. Aphrodite, running towards her love, cut her foot on the thorn of a white rose. The rose became saturated with blood, creating the first red rose. 

If you like Greek mythology and find the story of Aphrodite and Adonis interesting, check out the story of Daphne and Apollo, and the story of Cupid and Psyche

Craft projects using Valentine’s Day colors

Did you enjoy learning those facts about Valentine’s colors? Here are some DIY craft projects that use the colors red, white and pink for you to enjoy!

Two DIY Valentine's Day themed wall hangings made of red and white ribbons with hearts in Valentine's Day colors spaced out on them.

If you’re still looking to learn more about Valentine’s Day, check out this post on Cupid, god of love, and symbol of the holiday!


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Red, white and pink national days

If you love the Valentine’s colors as much as we do, you’ll be excited to know there are actually several national days of the year dedicated to them.

A February calendar with hearts on it next to one of the symbols of Valentine's Day, a red rose.

Each of the national days below celebrate red, pink and white items:

National days of the year are a special way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out my national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.

Recipes for Valentine’s Day using Valentine’s colors

Incorporate Valentine’s Day colors into your dessert table this year by checking out these delicious Valentine’s Day recipes.

A plate of heart shaped cookies for Valentine's Day on a red tablecloth with pink and red hearts around them and a text overlay that reads "Valentine's Day sugar cookies".

  • Heart shaped sugar cookies (pictured above) – Nothing says Valentine’s day like heart shaped cookies. These cookies, made with both white and pink dough, are very festive. The recipe is in the card below!
  • Tootsie pop flower Valentines – Check out these candy Valentine’s in the shape of roses with a tootsie pop treat in the center! 
  • Valentine’s Day kiss cookies – These sugar cookies have red and white striped candy cane Hershey’s kisses in them.
  • Raspberry cheesecake truffles – The red, white and pink sprinkles on these decadent dessert morsels make them festive for any Valentine’s Day gathering.
  • Sweetheart cookies – While these Brazilian sweet treats aren’t red, white or pink, they are delicious and aptly named for Valentine’s Day.

If you have already chosen a cupcake recipe for Valentine’s Day, but want to incorporate more Valentine’s Day colors into its appearance, check out our post with quick and easy Valentine cupcake decorations.

Pin this post on Valentine’s Day colors for later

Would you like a reminder of this post about Valentine’s colors? Just pin this image to one of your Valentine’s Day boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

You can also watch our video for making Valentine’s Day tootsie roll flowers on YouTube.

Pink, white and red peonies with a text overlay on top of them that reads "visit Always the Holidays for the ultimate guide to Valentine's Day colors and their meanings".

Yield: 24

Valentine's Day Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies

Valentine's Day Heart Shaped Sugar Cookies

These heart shaped cookies in two colors are the perfect way to say I love you to someone special.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (I use free range eggs)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp red food color
  • Sugar, to sprinkle

Instructions

  1. In a bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter, milk, vanilla extract and egg on medium speed until the mixture is well blended. Be sure to scrape the bowl occasionally.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the flour mixture until well mixed, scraping the bowl occasionally.
  4. Divide the dough in half. Take one half of dough and knead in red food color until the desired pink color is achieved. Cover the dough
  5. with plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour for easier handling.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Work with 1/3 of white dough at a time; keep remaining dough refrigerated. On lightly floured work surface, roll out white dough with rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness.
  7. Cut with floured 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter; place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
  8. Repeat with 1/3 of pink dough, keeping remaining pink dough refrigerated.
  9. Using a floured 1-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut center from each pink and white cookie. Remove the centers of the cookies; replace each center of cookie with cut out of the opposite colored dough. Sprinkle the cookies with sugar.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven for 5 -9 minutes or until edges are a light golden brown. Cool for 1 minute; then remove from cookie sheets.

Notes

**For a special touch, use purchased decorating icing to pipe the initials or name of your valentine sweetheart on individual cookies.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1 cookie

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 84mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

FACT CHECK: Our editorial staff aims to be accurate and fair in all posts. If you see something that doesn’t appear correct, please click here to contact us. Always the Holidays reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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