Meaning of Carnations


Flowers offer more than beauty, a heady scent and a splash of color. In many cultures throughout history, various flowers have meaning steeped in tradition. The carnation is one of those flowers, rich in history that goes back thousands of years. Researching flowers (and carnations in particular) may take a little time, but provides flower fans with interesting information on how they can convey feelings.

Step 1

Mention of carnations can be found in ancient documents and local lore. For example, the Greeks and Romans were known to decorate their homes with carnations. Carnations are believed to have grown where the teardrops of Mary fell as Christ carried the cross to be crucified, according to early Christian lore. The history of the name of the carnation (dianthus caryophyllus) is translated as "flower of love" or "flower of the gods." The carnation became the flower of Mother's Day during the early 20th century.

Step 2

Research the uses of carnations to express feelings and emotion. Using carnations to express feelings was especially popular during the Victorian Ages and is still practiced today. The carnation symbolizes attraction, with varying colors of the carnation representing different levels of attraction. For example, light-colored carnations denote attraction and affection, while darker or deeper colors signify deep and lasting love. In most cultures, a white carnation signifies purity or good luck.

Step 3

Explore the variety of carnation colors and learn their meanings. A pink carnation means "I'll never forget you" and has become the symbol of Mother's Day. It may also signal encouragement, while a red carnation signifies deep affection, passion and love and implies that "my heart aches for you." A yellow carnation generally signifies rejection of the attention of an admirer, while a striped carnation commonly means "sorry I can't be with you."


  • Carnations
  • The Language of Flowers
Keywords: carnations, history of carnations, meaning of carnations

About this Author

Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor. She has written professionally for more than seven years. Stern regularly provides content for health-related and elder-care websites and has an associate and specialized business degree in health information management and technology.