Carnation Flower Meaning: Understanding this Common Flower

5 min read

Carnations are one of the simplest but most beautiful cut flowers. They are available in just about any color, so work great in many bouquets. In fact, many carnations are two-toned, which makes them even more attractive. Interestingly, carnations can be used as a dyed flower. So, even if they do not naturally occur in a specific color, it is quite possible to dye the flower to create the desired hue. Carnations also make excellent garden plants but are more commonly known as pinks dianthus. This plant flowers in the spring to add a great splash of color to any landscape.

Carnations are relatively inexpensive flowers. They are often used as fillers in bouquets due to their numerous color choices and low cost. However, when appropriately arranged, they can hold their own as the centerpiece of a bouquet. For an economical bouquet with impact, try bunching several carnations together tightly. This results in the appearance of one large flower. It is a great way to save money on a bouquet but still produce something with an elegant flair.

In this post, we are going to cover:

* Carnations in history

* Color meanings

* Meanings around the world

Carnations in History

Carnations, like many other flowers, have a rich history in their symbolic story. Unlike other flowers, though, their origin is highly debated. It is said that many flowers get their symbolic nature from stories in Greek mythology. This is true for carnations; however, some tales claim the carnation origin lies in the Latin language.

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One of the stories of the carnation comes from the tale of the goddess Diana. Diana, the goddess of the hunt, was out on an expedition when she returned home empty-handed. On her journey home, she came across a shepherd playing the flute. In her opinion, her prey was scared off by this music, so it was his fault her hunt was unsuccessful. She could not control her temper and attacked the shepherd, cutting out his eyes. Where blood was shed, carnations grew.

In a less gruesome tale, some scholars believe carnations history lies in the Latin word carnis, which means “flesh.” They believe this refers to the pink color of the flower. Some also believe that it comes from the Latin phrase incarnacyon, which means incarnation. In Latin, this means “God made flesh.” This may be a very fitting explanation because carnations are often called the “flower of the gods.”

The word carnation may also come from the term corone, meaning “flower garland,” which was very popular in Greek history. Obviously, there are many explanations for where the term carnation originated. No matter which is actually true, the carnation has been around a very long time and is here to stay.

Color Meanings

A different meaning is associated with each color of carnation. Since flowers are usually given as gifts during a significant time in a person’s life, it is a good idea to know what each color means. Generally speaking, carnations symbolize love, distinction, and fascination. Here is a quick guide as to each colors’ specific meaning.

Light Red – Light red carnations are excellent to give to a person at the outset of a budding relationship. They represent admiration.

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Dark Red – Dark red carnations are fabulous for an anniversary. They symbolize deep love and affection.

White – White carnations are commonly used as wedding flowers. This is very fitting, considering they represent good luck and pure love.

Yellow – Yellow carnations may not be the greatest gift in terms of symbolism. Unfortunately, they mean disappointment and rejection.

Purple – Purple carnations represent capriciousness. This can mean fickle or unaccountable change, so be careful when sending this flower.

Pink – Pink is the most common carnation color and has two meanings. One is the power of a mother’s undying love, which originates from the tears of the Virgin Mary. More often, though, pink carnations are given as a sign of gratitude.

Carnation Meanings Around the World

Like so many other flowers, carnations have different meanings in different parts of the world. It is good to know what this flower can mean to different people. You want to make sure you are sending the intended message. Here is a quick overview of what carnations mean around the world.

Netherlands – Here, white carnations symbolize the countries’ opposition to World War II. They are worn to represent and honor the countries’ veterans.

FranceIn France, purple carnations are used for funerals. This is an excellent example of why it is important to know what each flower means and how, if used at an inappropriate time, it may cause confusion and upset.

Spain and Slovenia – Carnations are the national flower for both of these countries.

Christianity – Those of the Christian faith recognize carnations to mean “motherly love.” It is said that they represent Virgin Mary’s tears as she watched her son, Jesus, on the cross.

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May Day – In countries that celebrate May Day, red carnations are used to symbolize the labor movement and socialism.

Interesting Facts About Carnations

Carnations have a rich history throughout the world. They are the most popular cut flower in the US after the rose. They first appeared in the United States in 1852 when they were shipped from France and Long Island. In 1904, the red carnation was actually adopted by Ohio to honor the deceased president William McKinley.

There are many other interesting facts and meanings behind carnations. For example, if you are about to celebrate your first anniversary, give your spouse carnations. When given on this occasion, they symbolize love and commitment. Or perhaps you have a friend who’s birthday is in January. Consider giving them carnations as they are the January birth flower.

Similar to many other flowers, carnations are thought to have medicinal properties. Carnation tea is brewed and used to treat fever, headaches, stomach aches, and to restore energy. Carnations can also be found in many products in the beauty industry. They are often included in moisturizers to minimize wrinkles and to add a supple luster to the skin.

Through the carnations’ rich history, it is quite clear that carnations are one of the most interesting and versatile flowers.

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