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Carnation 101: The Carnation Flower & Their Meanings in Different Parts of the World

Here is a little tribute to the delicate yet beautifully timeless carnation flower, one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers, and the second most popular flower after roses. It is believed to have been around since ancient times with numerous myths and history behind it.

The scientific name for carnations is Dianthus caryophyllus of the Dianthus species. Dianthus, which means “Flower of Gods” is derived from the Greek words “dios”, which translates as “god” and “anthos” which means “flower”. It also roughly translates as “flower of love”, which is truly befitting for a carnation indeed.

The carnation flower symbolises Love, Captivation and Distinction and today, it’s no wonder that it’s so widely used and is the main star of many wonderful Mother’s Day bouquets. It also makes a lovely addition to any bunch because of its long-lasting freshness and fragrance.

However, each colour of the carnation has its own special meaning especially in different parts of the world. So, let’s dive into the various representations and symbols of the carnation flower, shall we?

carnations

The Meaning Behind the Different Colours of the Carnation Flower

White Carnation

In the mid 1940’s, the white carnation was bestowed as the official flower of Mother’s Day by Anna Jarvis, a woman who is said to have founded the ‘Mother’s Day’ celebration in the USA. Her fondness for the flower stemmed from her childhood where she spent time growing and tending to a garden of white carnations with her mother.

Anna Jarvis said that the white carnation flowers are a symbol of Mother’s Day because they represent some of the virtues of motherhood. White represents purity, while its lasting qualities and form represent faithfulness and beauty. Its fragrance on the other hand is a representation of a mother’s love that is sweet.

Other than that, the white carnation is also a symbol of good luck. So, presenting your mum or anyone else with the white carnation means you are wishing them much luck and blessings.

In the Netherlands, the white carnation is worn in remembrance of the country’s war veterans and resistance to World War II.

Red Carnation

Another colour of the carnation that is also considered to be the official Mother’s Day flower is the red carnation.

It is said that the deep red petals of the red carnation represents a beating heart that is filled with love, just like a mother’s.

A rich red carnation also symbolises deep love and affection, while a pale red carnation represents admiration and the words, “my heart aches for you”.

Did you know that the red carnation is also the official state flower of Ohio, USA? This idea has been adopted as such since 1904 and was chosen by the legislature of Ohio to honour the President William McKinley who was assassinated back in 1901. This is because the late president liked to wear a red carnation on the lapel of his jacket.


Pink Carnation
The pink carnation is often given as a symbol of heartfelt gratitude to say, “Thank you” and also “I will never forget you”.

Light pink carnations are often a favourite choice when it comes to a Mother’s Day bouquet as it symbolises mother-like love that is soft and tender.

Dark pink carnations however, were traditionally gifted to a loved one on a first date as it symbolises fondness and expresses sentiments of blooming love.

Purple Carnation
A bright purple carnation has a few varied meanings. Commonly, it symbolises capriciousness, or unpredictability, which we feel is perfect for loved ones who are adventurous, and have a wild and free spirit.

Others have even associated purple carnations with success and wealth.

However, in France, the purple carnation flowers are often given in condolences for a loved one’s death at funerals and is said to be the traditional flower for the occasion.

Besides that, purple carnations are also said to be a heartfelt sentiment to offer when saying “I’m sorry”.


Yellow Carnation
Unlike the other colours of the carnation flower, a yellow carnation expresses a more sad sentiment and portrays the idea of rejection or disappointment towards someone.

Back in the day, it was said that offering someone yellow carnations meant that you are breaking up with them or are rejecting their love.

Nevertheless, these bright and not-easy-to-ignore flowers are no doubt a beauty, especially with the name “Golden Sun”, how could it possibly be a sentiment of sadness and regret?


Striped Carnation
Back in the day, carnation flowers were used as means to communicate one's love and affection. While solid colours of the carnation flowers mean an affirmative “yes”, giving a striped carnation means refusal or “no”.

 

Other Fun Facts About the Carnation

Besides Mother’s Day, children in Korea widely present their parents carnations on Parent’s Day, a day where both mothers and fathers are celebrated together. 

Traditionally, the carnation is also gifted to those who are celebrating their first wedding anniversary, and is also known as the birth flower for the month of January. 

All in all, the carnation bloom is nothing short of wonderful, and has proven to have created #ThoughtfulConnections even through the ages. 

Check out our latest collection of Mother’s Day bunches, which also features the lovely carnation flowers!



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