The carnation was originally called dianthus (it is officially Dianthus caryophyllus) by the Greek botanist Theopharastus. It has been cultivated for over 2,000 years.
The name carnation has two possible origins. One thought is that the name comes from “coronation” or “corone” since it was used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Another thought is that the name is derived from the Greek carnis meaning flesh, which was the original flower’s color.
It is the birth flower for January and the National Flower of Spain.
A Mothers’ Day tradition is to wear a red carnations if your mother is living and to wear a white carnation if your mother has passed away.
For the Korean New Year, girls place three carnations in their hair. If the top flower dies first, the girls’ later years of life will be arduous. If the middle flower dies first, her earlier years will bring her the most grief. If the bottom flower dies first, the girl will be miserable her entire life.
In France, a purple carnation is a traditional funeral flower, given in condolence for the death of a loved one.
According legend, carnations first appeared as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus’ plight, and carnations sprang up from where her tears fell.
Carnations in general symbolize fascination, love, and good luck. A white carnation stands for innocence, devotion, and pure love.
Carnations, Colors, and Their Meanings
- general: fascination
- solid color: yes
- striped: no, refusal, I can’t be with you or wish I could be with you
- pink: I’ll never forget you
- light red: my heart aches for you, admiration
- dark red: deep love and affection
- purple: capriciousness
- white: sweet and lovely, innocence, pure love
- yellow: disappointment, rejection