The Symbolism of Carnations in Different Cultures

Carnations have been cherished and revered in various cultures around the world for centuries, each imbuing these beautiful Flowers carnations with unique meanings and symbolism. From love and admiration to mourning and celebration, carnations hold a special place in the hearts and traditions of many societies. Let’s explore the symbolism of carnations in different cultures:

1. Western Culture

In Western culture, carnations are often associated with love and admiration. Different colors of carnations convey distinct messages:

  • Red Carnations: Symbolize deep love and affection, making them popular choices for romantic occasions such as Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.
  • Pink Carnations: Represent maternal love, gratitude, and appreciation, often given as gifts to mothers on Mother’s Day.
  • White Carnations: Signify purity, innocence, and remembrance, commonly used in wedding bouquets and floral arrangements for funerals.

2. Asian Culture

In many Asian cultures, carnations hold diverse meanings and are often used in traditional ceremonies and celebrations:

  • China: Carnations are associated with luck and good fortune, often used in festive decorations during the Chinese New Year.
  • Japan: White carnations are used to honor ancestors and loved ones during the O-Bon festival, a time when families gather to pay respect to the deceased.
  • Korea: Red and pink carnations symbolize admiration and gratitude, frequently given as gifts to express affection and appreciation.

3. Middle Eastern Culture

In Middle Eastern culture, carnations are deeply ingrained in both religious and secular traditions:

  • Islam: Carnations are mentioned in Islamic literature and are associated with purity and spirituality. White carnations are often used in religious ceremonies and as offerings in mosques.
  • Turkey: Red carnations hold symbolic significance in Turkish culture, representing love, respect, and patriotism. They are commonly worn or displayed during national holidays and ceremonies.

4. European Culture

Throughout Europe, carnations have been revered for their beauty and fragrance, and they carry various symbolic meanings:

  • Greece: Carnations are associated with the ancient Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, and are often used in weddings and romantic celebrations.
  • Spain: Red carnations are a symbol of passion and strength and are commonly worn during the Feria de Abril festival in Seville.
  • Italy: White carnations are used to honor mothers on Mother’s Day, symbolizing purity, love, and gratitude.

5. Latin American Culture

In many Latin American countries, carnations are deeply rooted in cultural traditions and customs:

  • Mexico: Carnations play a significant role in the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival, where they are used to decorate altars and graves as offerings to deceased loved ones.
  • Brazil: Red carnations symbolize love and desire and are often exchanged between lovers on Valentine’s Day or given as gifts on special occasions.


Carnations hold rich and diverse symbolism across different cultures, representing love, admiration, remembrance, and more. Whether used in religious ceremonies, festive celebrations, or everyday gestures of affection, carnations continue to captivate and inspire people around the world, transcending cultural boundaries and connecting us through their timeless beauty and significance.

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