The carnation is a flower that expresses love, fascination, and distinction. It is the “flower of love” as well as the “flower of the gods.” Dating back 2000 years, it is one of the oldest cultivated flowers. Carnations are appreciated for their ruffled appearance, clove-like scent, and extended blooming period. In ancient Greece and Rome, they were used in art and décor. The meaning behind the name is controversial. Some scholars believe carnations come from the word “corone” or “coronation” as they were used for Greek ceremonial crowns. Others suggest that carnation is derived from the Latin word “carnis” or flesh and refers to the flower’s original pale pink color.
Although carnations were originally pink and peach, they now come in a variety of colors which are associated with different meanings. Red symbolizes admiration and friendship while bright red conveys deep love and affection. White carnations suggest feelings that are pure and innocent as well as gratitude and good luck. Purple carnations imply capriciousness and yellow signifies rejection or disappointment. Striped carnations can be used to convey a refusal or rejection. Pink carnations have the most significant meaning. It is believed that the first pink carnations bloomed as Mary wept for Jesus carrying the cross and therefore signifies a mother’s undying love.
Carnations, along with daisies and roses, were once the popular choice for floral arrangements. Although their popularity has decreased in recent years, they can still be seen on Teacher’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, and 1st year wedding anniversaries.