White Carnation is Synonymous with Mother’s Day

May 7, 2011

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By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

The white carnation is synonymous with the virtues of motherhood. A mother’s unconditional love for her child is recognized around the world on Mother’s Day. More than a century has passed since Anna Jarvis organized the first mother’s day acknowledgement, a religious remembrance in honor her deceased mother.

Today, this heartwarming tradition has evolved into Mother’s Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May.  The first mother’s day festivities were held in a West Virginia church. Sunday services included liturgy highlighting all mothers’ esteemed role in raising their families. As part of the services, every woman in the congregation received a white carnation, Mrs. Jarvis’ favorite flower, to commemorate this heartwarming sentiment.

Cherished around the globe, the carnation is one of the oldest cultivated flowers. In addition to its heartiness and beauty, the carnation is a floral artist’s favorite. When creating a corsage, boutonniere, bouquet or other floral décor, even after cutting, the carnation retains its freshness longer than other flowers commonly used in floral design.

The carnation is easily adaptable to a variety of floral arrangements from welcoming newborns to expressing condolences in a sympathy remembrance.  These ruffled flowers are easy to work with, inexpensive and delightful as a ‘single stem’ or when incorporated with other flowers in any floral arrangement.

Through history, the carnation has come to represent a variety of feelings, emotions and sentiments specific to carnation color. The most common carnation color associations include:

White – innocence, pure love, sweetness, luck

Dark Red – love, passion, affection, respect

Light Red – admiration

Pink – gratitude, remembrance, thoughtfulness, thankfulness

Yellow – distain, rejection, disappointment

On Mother’s Day, remember your mother with a bouquet of white carnations. This thoughtful gift will be cherished and carnations just might become a family tradition.  Copyright ©2011 Bernadine Chapman-Cruz



  1. Dear Anonymous,
    Sorry, my mistake. Mother’s Day came so early this year. The error has been corrected. bernadine


  2. The old-fashioned carnation has the most wonderful fragrance. It brings back memories of Junior Proms and Senior Balls – of the wristlet of flowers we girls would get from our dates. Occasionally I would get baby roses which was one of my other favorites.

    Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day today.


    • Valerie, carnations are hearty and easy to grow too. And yes, they do bring back memories.


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