Flowers were once the lover’s sweetest weapon at a time when propriety forbade passionate declarations of love. A bouquet contained coded intentions, and the Victorians became especially skilled in the secret language of flowers. The Carnation, birth flower for January, Honeysuckle, and Primrose each had something unique to say whenever they appeared in a bouquet.
The white Carnation, believed to be an aphrodisiac, symbolized betrothal, love, and fertility, and became a popular wedding flower. The yellow Carnation was reserved for rejection, and red for an aching heart. In some cultures, however – especially France and the Francophone culture – the carnation symbolizes misfortune and bad luck.
Carnations are often worn on special occasions, especially Mother’s Day and weddings. They were known as “Jove’s Flower” in ancient Rome as a tribute to one of their beloved gods. In Korea, red and pink Carnations are used for showing their love and gratitude toward their parents on Parents Day (Korea does not separate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but has Parents Day on May 8). Sometimes, you can see parents wear a corsage of Carnation(s) on their left chest on Parents Day. Not only on Parents Day, but also on Teacher’s Day (May 15), people express their admiration and gratitude to their teachers with Carnations, as Carnation has the meaning of ‘admiration’, ‘love’, and ‘gratitude’.
It is the national flower of Spain, and the provincial flower of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. It is also the symbol of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution. The state flower of Ohio is a scarlet carnation. The choice was made to honor William McKinley, Ohio Governor and U.S. President, who was assassinated in 1901, and regularly wore a scarlet carnation on his lapel.
Flowers have inspired us for as long as we could see, smell and touch them. As girl’s names, they became synonymous with sweetness, beauty and healing, and with even more abstract qualities such as nobility, serenity, and innocence. Not only were flowers a source of delight and cheer in themselves, but they lent themselves to the imagination and fancy of the human mind. Their colour, shape, scent and unique characteristics have given rise to myriad myths and characters whose names were synonymous with the flowers themselves.
Get inspired by some really great images and tattoos in our Carnation Tattoo Gallery