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SPECIAL OCCASIONS: The Traditional Mother’s Day Flower

The Traditional Mother’s Day Flower
07 May 2018



The carnation has such a rich history and has become the flower synonymous with Mother’s Day. Carnations are said to be the ultimate representation of a child’s love for their mother. But why, and how did these particular flowers become associated with Mother’s Day?

Mothers Day Flowers & Gifts

Why are Carnations the Flower chosen for Mother’s Day?

The carnation was the flower chosen by the founder of Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, to celebrate her mother. After her mother passed, Anna sent 500 white carnations to the church where her mother had taught Sunday School for over 20 years to be presented to each mother in the congregation. carnations were her mother’s favourite flower. For years to follow, the church repeated this tradition once a year and moms were celebrated with carnations.

Carnations are special flowers in that they do not lose their petals as they die, but rather they hug their petals to their heart. So too, do mothers hug their children to their hearts. Their motherly love never dies.

Carnation Colours and Their Symbolism

As the tradition of gifting carnations on Mother's Day grew, each carnation colour took on a new symbolism. The white carnation is the most popular colour as it is thought to represent the virtues of motherhood – beauty, longevity, purity, its sweet fragrance, love and its endless bounds in that it grows worldwide. Pink carnations also have great significance as they were thought to have first appeared on earth in the place where the Virgin Mary's tears fell, weeping for her child – making them the symbol of a mother's undying love.

White Carnations, with their sweet smell, became the flower to honour the memory of mothers who were missed – both those who were far away, or those who had passed - while red and pink carnations honoured those who were with us.

Today, Carnations can be found in a wide range of colours. The Carnation generally symbolizes love. However, the different colours of this flower also have different meanings. Light red symbolises admiration, dark red means deep love and admiration; white, purity and good luck; and yellow, friendship.

6 Fun Facts about Carnations

  • Carnations do not naturally produce the pigment which allows the flower to be blue, therefore a blue carnation cannot occur in nature. Carnations share this characteristic with other flowers such as roses, lilies, tulips, chrysanthemums and gerberas.
  • Carnations are commonly dyed green in celebration of St Patrick’s Day. A tradition started by the famous Irish author, Oscar Wilde.
  • The carnation is the January birth month flower and the 1st wedding anniversary flower.
  • During the Elizabethan times, carnations were used to spice wine and ales, as a substitute for using the more expensive clove.
  • Carnations are also used to treat medical conditions. In Europe the carnation was formerly used as a treatment for fevers and the Aztecs used carnation tea to treat chest congestion. Today, floral teas infused with carnation petals are still sipped to relieve stress, depression, and insomnia.
  • Carnations are edible, and you can even add chopped carnations to a salad, although some variations are a little on the bitter side.

Carnation Care

Carnation Care

Carnations also typically last longer than most other cut flowers and they are available all over the world. Cut carnations are extremely easy going and it does not take much to keep them happy. All they need is some floral food, a change of fresh water every few days and a stem-trimming every so often. You won’t even have to do any of this right after delivery, only 2 – 3 days after you receive them. Remember to keep your flowers out of the sun and away from heaters, air conditioners and wind as well.

Tip: Cut the stems at a 45-degree angle before putting them in water as this will help the flowers absorb water rather than sitting flat on the bottom of the vase.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Carnations are easy to care for and have such meaning for your mom if she receives them. Why don’t you make her Mother’s Day special this year with a surprise delivery of a beautiful carnation bouquet? If you want to spice up your carnation bouquet, you can add some roses and perhaps a few stargazer lilies too. Here are some flower ideas for mom for you to choose from.


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