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Give mom carnations on Mother's Day

Melissa Dunlap is a writer, editor and blogger specializing in lifestyle communications. Fueled by curiosity, and a tad too much coffee, Melissa enjoys dissecting current trends for the modern woman. When she's not having dance parties w...

For years carnations have been a popular flower for Mother's Day, but ever wonder why? Find out why carnations are the flowers of choice for mom's special day.

For years carnations have been a popular flower for Mother's Day, but ever wonder why? See how carnations became a popular flower to give to mom and learn what each color symbolizes.

Carnation flowers


For years carnations have been a popular flower for Mother's Day, but ever wonder why? See how carnations became a popular flower to give to mom and learn what each color symbolizes.




Boy holding carnationsSure, roses, tulips, and lilies are all popular spring flowers to give on Mother's Day, but did you know that carnations are the traditional choice to celebrate mom? This tradition has been going strong for over 100 years and, as carnations are increasingly becoming back in vogue, we were inspired to look into the history behind giving mom this understated bloom for her special day.

Carnations and Mother's Day

The relationship between carnations and Mother's Day began in the early 1900s. Many credit Anna Jarvis, the woman who first championed the idea of celebrating moms, with selecting the carnation as the flower of choice for Mother's Day.

To commemorate her mother in 1907, Jarvis delivered 500 white carnations to St. Andrew's Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia, the church where her mother taught Sunday school for over 20 years. Carnations were her mother's favorite flowers and Jarvis requested that each mom in the congregation received one. The following year, St. Andrew's Church repeated the tradition of celebrating moms and from then on carnation flowers were associated with Mother's Day.

In addition to gifting carnations, it also became popular to wear carnations on Mother's Day, particularly at church.

Check out: Best types of flowers for Mother's Day 

Carnation colors

Carnation colors hold different meanings. According to Jarvis,

"The white carnation is preferred because it may be thought to typify some of the virtues of motherhood; ... whiteness stands for purity; its lasting qualities, faithfulness; its fragrance, love; its wide field of growth, charity; its form, beauty..."


As the tradition of gifting carnations on Mother's Day grew, carnation colors took on new symbolism. White carnations are meant to honor the memory of deceased mothers while red and pink carnations honor those who are living.

This year consider giving mom a bouquet of meaningful carnation flowers for Mother's Day. Include a personalized note or card and let her know how much you love and appreciate her.
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