Carnations-An International Sensation

Often called the poor men’s roses, carnations are one of the most underrated flowers on the planet. Like its popular cousin, roses, carnations carry a whole lot of symbolic meanings dependent on the color. Light red carnations represent admiration, while dark red denote deep love and affection but for the most part, carnations express love, fascination, and distinction. But what sets this humble flower above from the rest is its rich historical significance. No other flower can match the social and political significance of carnations.

Red carnations are a symbol of socialism and the labor movement, and historically it has often been used in demonstrations on International Workers’ Day (May Day). And in the 1974 coup d’état started by the military of Portugal to end the fascist regime in the country, bright red carnations represented the revolution.

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During World War 2, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands wore white carnations as a gesture of defiance against the Nazi occupation of the country. The Dutch population also took up this gesture and after the war the white carnation became a token remembrance of the Prince and veterans of the resistance.


Carnations are also associated with biblical legends and folklore. And according to one of them, carnations first appeared on the as Jesus carried the Cross. The Virgin Mary is supposed to have shed tears at Jesus’ plight, and pink carnations sprang up from where her tears fell and the pink carnation became the symbol of a mother’s undying love.

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The flower is also intertwined with many social events and occasions. In Korea people wear red and pink carnations or a corsage of carnations on their left chest on Parents Day.

Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day chose a carnation as the emblem of the occasion as it was her mother’s favorite flower. She chose the white carnation to represent the purity of a mother’s love.


In the former People’s Republic of Poland, carnations were traditionally given to women on Women’s Day, along with difficult to find commodities in the economic hardships faced by the country’s communist system.

Carnation is also the national flower of Spain, Monaco, and Slovenia, and the provincial flower of the autonomous community of the Balearic Islands.

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