Carnations were mentioned in Greek literature 2,000 years ago. “Dianthus” was coined by Greek botanist Theophrastus, and is derived from the Greek words for divine (“dios”) and flower (“anthos”). Some scholars believe that the name “carnation” comes from “coronation” or “corone” (flower garlands), as it was one of the flowers used in Greek ceremonial crowns. Others think the name stems from the Latin “caro” (genitive “carnis”) (flesh), which refers to the original colour of the flower, or incarnatio (incarnation), which refers to the incarnation of God made flesh. The legend that explains the name is that Diana the Goddess came upon the shepherd boy and took a liking to him. But the boy, for some reason, turned her down. Diana ripped out his eyes and threw them to the ground where they sprouted into the Dianthus flower.
Although originally applied to the species Dianthus caryophyllus, the name Carnation is also often applied to some of the other species of Dianthus, and more particularly to garden hybrids between D. caryophyllus and other species in the genus.
Botanical Name: Dianthus caryophyllus
Process: Solvent Extracted Absolute
Plant Part: Flowers
Use: Natural Perfumery
Note: Middle note
Aroma: Spicy (clove-like), honey, floral with strong green notes
Blends well with: Clary Sage, Coriander, Clove, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Jonquille, Lavender, Patchouli and Ylang Ylang
Uses: Promotes healing of body and mind, happiness and well-being, decreased anxiety, increased sensuality, decreased irritation, a lifting of depression and apathy. Aids in digestion, calms muscle spasms, lymphatic cleansing, reduces growth of diseased cells, promotes kidney, prostate and bladder health. Helps enhances self worth, strength, and protection.
Symbolism and Events
- For the most part, carnations express love, fascination, and distinction, though there are many variations dependent on color.
- Along with the red rose, the red carnation can be used as a symbol of socialism and the labour movement, and historically has often been used in demonstrations on International Workers’ Day (May Day).
- In Portugal, bright red carnations represent the 1974 coup d’etat started by the military to end the fascist regime ongoing since 1926.
- Light red carnations represent admiration, while dark red denote deep love and affection.
- White carnations represent pure love and good luck, while striped (variegated) carnations symbolise regret that a love cannot be shared.
- White carnations, in the Netherlands are associated with HRH prince Bernhard. He wore one during WWII and in a gesture of defiance some of the Dutch population took up this gesture. After the war the white carnation became a sign of the Prince, veterans and remembrance of the resistance.
- Purple carnations indicate capriciousness. In France, it is a traditional funeral flower, given in condolence for the death of a loved one.
- In France and Francophone cultures, carnations symbolize misfortune and bad luck.
- Pink carnations have the most symbolic and historical significance: According to a Christian legend, carnations first appeared on Earth as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus’ plight, and carnations sprang up from where her tears fell. Thus the pink carnation became the symbol of a mother’s undying love.
- Carnation is the birth flower for those born in the month of January.
- The formal name for carnation, dianthus, comes from Greek for “heavenly flower”, or the flower of Jove.
- Carnations are often worn on special occasions, especially Mother’s Day and weddings. In 1907, Anna Jarvis chose a carnation as the emblem of Mother’s Day because it was her mother’s favourite flower. This tradition is now observed in the United States and Canada on the second Sunday in May. Ann Jarvis chose the white carnation because she wanted to represent the purity of a mother’s love. This meaning has evolved over time, and now a red carnation may be worn if one’s mother is alive, and a white one if she has died.
- In Korea, carnations express admiration, love and gratitude. Red and pink carnations are worn on Parents Day (Korea does not separate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but has Parents Day on 8 May). Sometimes, parents wear a corsage of carnation(s) on their left chest on Parents Day. Carnations are also worn on Teachers Day (15 May).
- Red carnations are worn on May Day as a symbol of socialism and the labour movement in some countries, such as Austria, Italy, and successor countries of the former Yugoslavia. The red carnation is also the symbol of the Portuguese Carnation Revolution.
- Green carnations are for St. Patrick’s Day and were famously worn by the Irish writer Oscar Wilde. The green carnation thence became a symbol of homosexuality in the early 20th century, especially through the book The Green Carnation and Noël Coward’s song, “We All Wear a Green Carnation” in his operetta, Bitter Sweet.
- In Poland, in times of People’s Republic of Poland, carnations were traditionally given to women on the widely celebrated Women’s Day, together with commodities that were difficult to obtain due to the economic hardships faced by the country’s communist system, such as tights, towels, soap and coffee.
- At the University of Oxford, carnations are traditionally worn to all examinations; white for the first exam, pink for exams in between, and red for the last exam. One story explaining this tradition relates that initially a white carnation was kept in a red inkpot between exams, so by the last exam it was fully red; the story is thought to originate in the late 1990s.
- Carnations are the traditional first wedding anniversary flower.
- Carnation is the national flower of Spain, Monaco, and Slovenia, and the provincial flower of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands. The state flower of Ohio is a scarlet carnation, which was introduced to the state by Levi L. Lamborn. 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.
If you are pregnant, receiving cancer treatment, or have a weakened immune system the use of essential oils is not recommended!
While essential oil will not go rancid, carrier oils can. Store your carrier oils in a cool, dry, and dark place.
While I’ve attempted to use credible sources for information, this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If there is a disparity between the information presented within this blog and the advice given by your medical professional, please follow the medical professional’s advice as he/she will know you and your medical circumstances.