Everyone knows that getting Mom flowers on Mother’s Day is a time-honored tradition, but what you may not know is that there is an official Mother’s Day flower—carnations. How did this classic cut flower become so closely associated with the day when we let Mom know that all the little (and big) things she does for us all year have not gone unnoticed?
As it turns out, the answer is simple. Our modern celebration of Mother’s Day was the brainchild of Anna Jarvis, whose admiration and love for her own mother inspired her to lobby for a national day to recognize the hard work and sacrifice of mothers everywhere. In her early efforts to promote the day, she sent white carnations to her family’s church in Grafton, West Virginia, for distribution during the associated service. Why this particular flower? It was her mother’s favorite.
Jarvis is quoted as saying the flower exemplified the virtues of motherhood because “whiteness stands for purity; its lasting qualities, faithfulness; its fragrance, love; its wide field of growth, charity; [and] its form, beauty.” Over the years since the first official Mother’s Day, other nuances of gifting carnations arose. Some came to associate white carnations with mothers who had passed away, and they became the flowers you would leave at the grave site. At the same time, red or pink carnations were adopted as the flower gifted to a living mother, to symbolize love and gratitude, respectively. In some parts of the country, it was also popular to wear a carnation on Mother’s Day, particularly to church. There’s even a Christian legend claiming that carnations sprang up where the Virgin Mary’s tears fell to the ground.
These days, carnations may have a bit of a bad rap, but undeservedly so. The qualities that resulted their overexposure are the very things that make them a fantastic cut flower. They’re relatively inexpensive and available year-round. They naturally come in all shades of pink, red, white, and purple, including fantastic variegated colors. Unlike some modern flowers, they still retain a light fragrance that is pleasant without being overpowering. Their ruffled petals add charming texture to mixed bouquets or create a lush effect when bunched together. And best of all, they have an unbelievable vase life. Keep them out of drafts and away from direct sunlight, be sure to change the water regularly, add a little bit of plant food, and they can last up to three weeks!
Whatever flowers you choose to get for your mother, grandmother, stepmother, wife, or other mother figure in your life, we can all take a page from Anna Jarvis’s book, and think first of her favorites—after all, nothing says that you care more than showing her that you know what she likes. But if you like connecting to tradition, consider throwing a few carnations in the mix too.
At Rachel Cho Floral Design, we know that beautifully designed flowers enhance not just holidays, but every day. We use the freshest blooms to create inspired designs that capture your vision. For collaborative customer service, uniquely eye-catching arrangements, and convenient delivery options, contact us today.