The birthday flower for January is the fragrant carnation, also known as dianthus, sweet william, pink, and gillyflower. Available in a rainbow of colors and blossom sizes, carnations are known for their dainty ruffled petals and a sweet fragrance reminiscent of cloves or cinnamon. But don’t let their delicate appearance fool you. Carnations are also easy to grow, very hearty, and among the longest-lasting cut flowers around.
Carnations in History
While no one knows for sure, most floral experts believe that carnations are native to the Mediterranean basin. Others believe they first appeared in the Far East. We do know that carnations have been cultivated (and loved) for over 2,000 years.
The name carnation can be traced back to “coronation” or “corone” (flower garland), because it was one of the flowers used in ceremonial crowns worn by the ancient Greeks. Other experts think the name derived from either the Greek word “carnis” (flesh), referring to the original color of the flower, or “incarnacyon” (incarnation), a religious reference to the incarnation of God made flesh. The Latin name for carnation, dianthus, means “divine flower.” white
Colors and Symbolism
- pink carnations are one of the most popular flowers in the world and have several traditional meanings, including mother’s love, remembrance, perfect happiness and gratitude.
- Like red roses, red carnations are also a traditional symbol of love and romance. Light red carnations say to someone “I admire and care for you” and dark red carnations symbolize romantic love.
- Even though they appear bright and cheerful, if you sent a gift of yellow carnations during Victorian times, it symbolized your disappointment with someone.
- white carnations symbolize innocent love and are a traditional good luck gift for a woman.
Fun Facts about Carnations
- In France, carnations are grown commercially for their oil, which is used in skin creams, as a muscle relaxant, and for the treatment of hair loss.
- In Spain, the carnation is the primary flower used in many religious celebrations and national festivals.
In addition to its prominence as the January birth flower, carnations have also been the official flower of Mother’s Day since 1914. So if your mother was also born in January, you now have two wonderful reasons to honor her with a gift of fragrant, delicate carnations.