The Carnation is the designated flower for January’s celebrated birthdays.  It has been cultivated for over 2000 years in Asia and Europe.  The name “Carnation” may come from “coronation” or “corone” for floral garlands used in early Greece ceremonial events.  The Greek botanist, Theophrastus, gave the Carnation the botanical name “Dianthus” which means “flower of the gods”.  While there are over 300 species, most are perennials that bloom in full sun and well-drained soil and in most colors except blue.

In 1904, the state of Ohio adopted the red Carnation as its official state flower.  The red Carnation honors President William McKinley, who was an Ohioan.  He was assassinated in 1901.  President McKinley wore a red Carnation in his jacket’s buttonhole on the lapel.  The Carnation is also the national flower of Spain.

The Carnation is the official flower of Mother’s Day.  Anna Marie Jarvis (1864 to 1948), who founded Mother’s Day chose the Carnation as a tribute to her own mother, Anna Marie Reeves Jarvis, (1832 to 1905).  She was an activist that promoted health and safety.  Anna Marie campaigned for a recognized Mother’s Day holiday, and in 1907 she sent 50 white Carnations to her mother’s parish church, St. Andrew’s in Grafton, West Virginia for the mothers in the congregation.  President Woodrow Wilson granted her wish in 1914, when Mother’s Day became an official holiday.

White carnations symbolize purity, light red symbolize admiration, dark red symbolize love and affection, and pink symbolize gratitude.

The meanings of Carnation are fascination, distinction and love.  Its history is seen in Greek and Roman art.

Carnations are used to brew tea, which helps to reduce stress and boost energy levels.  Carnation tea has also been used to treat fevers and stomach aches.


Carolyn Surdel


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