The cultural significance (symbolism) of carnations

  1. History, Origins & Modern Cultivation

Carnations, scientifically known as Dianthus Caryophyllus, have graced our planet for over 2,000 years. The cultural significance (symbolism) of carnations has become integral to the floral world. The following article will discuss carnations’ cultural significance (symbolism) and the care instructions. Originally believed to hail from the Mediterranean region, they were adored by the Greeks and Romans, both as decorative elements and for ceremonial purposes. These hardy blooms are cultivated globally, with production hubs in Colombia, Spain, and Israel.

  1. Cultural significance and meanings

Across various cultures, carnations hold deep symbolic meanings. In Christianity, they’re believed to have sprung from the tears of the Virgin Mary, representing maternal love. Different colors have varied significances; red symbolizes deep love and respect, while white indicates pure love and good luck. Pink carnations are especially cherished as they symbolize a mother’s undying love.

  1. Popular Varieties

  • Moon Series by Florigene: A revolutionary genetic modification allowing for hues of purple and blue previously unseen in carnations.
  • Vintage: This variety boasts a rustic charm with muted, antique colors.
  • Novelty: Known for their unique patterns and colors, they’re a favorite among floral designers.
  • Mini Carnations (Pixies): Petite and delightful, they often adorn boutonnieres and smaller arrangements. Also known as spray carnations. Each stem has multiple blooms.
  1. Slang Terms (U.S.)

  • Pixies: Another term for mini carnations.
  • Pinks: Referring to the pink-edged varieties.
  • Carnies: A casual term used by some florists.
  • Gillyflower: An old-fashioned term for certain fragrant flowers, including carnations.
  1. Flower’s Role in Popular Culture

Carnations have made several appearances in popular culture. They’re often seen in literature, representing love and romance. Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Ian McEwan’s Atonement are just two of the many novels where carnations play a symbolic role. Musically, they’ve been the subject of songs across generations, from the 1960s pop song “Red Carnation” to more recent ballads.

  1. Fun Facts & Trivia

  • Carnations are edible and have been used to flavor ales and wines.
  • They can last up to two weeks when properly cared for.
  • In Korea, red and pink carnations show love and gratitude towards parents on Teacher’s and Parent’s Day.
  • The official flower of Ohio, thanks to a group of passionate garden clubbers in the 1900s.
  • January’s birth flower represents the start of the new year.

  1. Sustainability & Eco-friendly Insights

Being hardy flowers, carnations require less pesticide use than other commercial flowers. Several farms globally are transitioning to organic cultivation, making the trade more sustainable. Recyclable or biodegradable packaging is also becoming a trend in the carnation industry.

  1. Behind-the-Scenes Look

The journey of a carnation, from seedling to a blooming beauty, is meticulous. In specialized nurseries, seedlings are nurtured until they’re robust enough to be transplanted to vast fields. Here, under the watchful eyes of expert growers, they mature for months, thriving in the perfect concoction of sunlight and shade. Once they reach the optimal size and hue, they’re harvested, ensuring that each bloom reaches consumers in impeccable condition.  Most of the world’s carnations are grown in Colombia.  Colombian farms sell them to importers, distributors, and wholesalers.  Almost all are imported into the United States, mainly through the Miami Airport in South Florida.

  1. Processing & Care

Upon receiving fresh carnations, trimming an inch off the stems at an angle to aid absorption is essential. Store them in a cool place and avoid direct sunlight. Before arranging, rehydrate them for at least 2 hours. To maintain their freshness, change the water every two days and avoid overcrowded arrangements, allowing them to breathe.

  1. Conclusion

Carnations, with their ruffled petals and a wide array of colors, continue to symbolize love, fascination, and distinction. Their enduring appeal in culture and design makes them a timeless choice. The cultural significance (symbolism) of carnations have become a staple in the floral world.  Whether commemorating a special occasion or brightening up a room, carnations are your evergreen floral companion.