Mother’s Day is usually adorned with carnations. Those beautiful multi-petaled flowers can be found lining the aisles of grocery stores and windows of florists every time May comes around with its glowing spring air. Carnations are interesting because they are considered symbols of love, but how do carnations and motherhood suit each other? Let’s discover the mysterious symbols of these two themes together!

Carnations: Flowers of Death or Familial Love?

Carnations are native to the Mediterranian area and come in a variety of colors, mostly thanks to hybrid breeding. From pink and red carnations to huge-headed multi-colored flowers, these beautiful florae are the centerpiece of many flower arrangements for a multitude of holidays, including Mother’s Day!

Despite the usual connotation it holds as a flower of love in all forms, in some cultures carnations are used for funeral flower arrangements and altar flowers. They can symbolize love beyond death and are gifts for passed loved ones. This darker symbolism does not permeate much of western society, however, leaving us here in America to witness the carnation as a symbol of motherhood and familial love mostly.


A Floral Mother’s Day

Carnations were not actually thought to represent motherly love and motherhood until the first official Mother’s Day occurred. Started by Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day became a holiday to celebrate mothers and their accomplishments after she took her own mother’s suggestion seriously about creating such a day. Thanks to Jarvis’ mother’s wish, Mother’s Day was established to celebrate all mothers across the country! And, carnations became a part of the celebration after Jarvis donated hundreds of white carnations to her mother’s church after her passing. 

Since that donation, these lovely flowers have appeared throughout America whenever Mother’s Day comes around. These flowers, especially the pink and white variations, now symbolize a child’s or lover’s recognition of the hardships that occur when one becomes a mother. Mothers are the backbone of a family, acting as leaders and nurturers. We must show the mothers in our lives how much we respect them for their amazing work, and this can be easily done thanks to the symbolic love that still exists through these flowers!

Give your mother a carnation this year. She’ll love it no matter what!

Frankie Kavakich


Frankie Kavakich is a published prose and poetry writer and a practicing witch whose love for the occult and horror permeates their everyday life. For eight years, they have studied a variety of practices including kitchen witchery, chaos magick, divination, manifestation, and brujería. Within their writing, Frankie features numerous topics ranging from ghosts and spirits to the importance of community and reliance on nature's bounty. Their great grandmother Nilda was a healer from the rain forests of Puerto Rico, and Frankie is endlessly inspired by the gentle hands and kind hearts of their ancestors.

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