Roses are red. Violets are blue. And carnations use every hue to say, “I love you.” Welcome to Carnation Day, celebrated Jan. 29. Carnations are a versatile flower, coming in various colors and meanings. Also known as Red Carnation Day, this particular flower was a favorite of William McKinley, the 25th President of the United States, who wore one on his lapel.
History of Carnation Day
Our research did not uncover the origin of Carnation Day, but we did find some interesting tidbits. The aforesaid President, and one-time governor of Ohio, William McKinley’s birthday is Jan. 29, 1843, likely the reason for the holiday date choice. During a run for a seat in Congress in 1876, McKinley’s opponent, Levi Lamborn, graced him with “Lamborn Red,” a particularly crimson carnation, before debates. McKinley took the flower to mean good luck and wore one frequently. Following McKinley’s assassination in 1901, the Ohio General Assembly declared the scarlet carnation the official flower of the state on Feb. 3, 1904.
History of Carnations
Carnations are the birth flower of January. An assortment of tales and mythos surrounds the carnation. Some say the patch of earth upon which the tears of Mary, the mother of Christ, fell is where the carnation first emerged. The carnation has roots going back to ancient Greek and Roman times. It’s typical coloring of peach and pale pink gave the impression of human flesh, feeding into the concept of incarnation, which Merriam-Webster dictionary defines as “the embodiment of a deity or spirit in some earthly form.” Dianthus, the scientific name for carnation, translates to “flowers of the God” or “heavenly flower.” The name stems from “dois” and “anthos,” the former relating to the god Zeus, the latter meaning “flower.” Carnations are the official flower of Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day founder, Ann Jarvis, made it so in 1907 in honor of her mother. The carnation was Ann’s mother’s favorite flower and felt it perfectly represented the purity of her mother’s love.
Carnations come in several colors, each bearing a specific meaning
Pink- represents gratitude, remembrance, and a mother’s love
Yellow- disappointment, rejection
Light Red- adoration, admiration
Dark Red- deep love and affection
Purple- capriciousness (impulsiveness) or form of apology
Green- given on St. Patrick’s, to teachers and can serve as a symbol for homosexuality (the green carnation was a symbol of famed homosexual writer/playwright Oscar Wilde)
White- purity, good luck, prosperity, pure love.
How To Observe Carnation Day
Brush up on your American history and learn some William McKinley info. Share fun facts on social media with the hashtag #CarnationDay. Put together a bouquet for a friend, family member or partner. Pick the color that best represents your feelings for that particular person. Use one color or mix it up. Go with what most accurately captures the rhythm of your heart.