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3 curiosities about carnations

The carnation is a controversial flower but it is regaining its place in the most refined bouquets, giving a vintage touch to the composition. Personally it is a flower that I love very much, in its shades of pink it reminds me of the elegance of peonies and in red sumptuous velvets. Carnation is a flower that has a long vase life and that I often leave single stems in small pots around the house.

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The carnation originates from the Mediterranean coast and evidence of this can already be found in ancient Rome, where this beautiful flower was used for medicinal purposes. It seems that it defeated poisons and was a remedy against the plague. Moreover, its flowers with an intense aroma were put into the wine to flavor it and were used to create eau de toilette. The name "Dianthus" was given by the Greek botanist Theophrastus, and derives from the Greek words dìos, which means divine, and ànthos, which means flower, therefore, dianthus literally means divine flower.

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2. Between myth and history

Being present in Europe for thousands of years, carnation is one of the most rich in history and legends. In mythology, for example, it is the sacred flower to the goddess of hunting, Diana. According to legend, it is said that a young shepherd fell madly in love with Diana, who abandoned him after giving him false hopes of love. The young man died from despair a short time later and, from the tears he had shed for his love, white carnations were born. According to a Christian legend, it would have appeared for the first time on Earth from the tears shed by the Virgin Mary for the suffering of her son Jesus who carried the Cross to Calvary before dying, for this reason it is represented as a symbol of essence of naive, sincere maternal love and pure. In the Nordic tradition, the bride has to wear a carnation on her wedding day, which the groom will later have to find in his clothes. In this sense, the carnation symbolizes a promise of love and in many Flemish when in the hands of the person depicted a red carnation is a symbol of a promise of marriage. However, not only mythological legends are linked to the carnation, but also in history there are many stories linked to this extraordinary flower. It is said that in 1270 the death of many soldiers of Louis IX, King of France, due to a plague epidemic during the Tunisian crusade, was arrested thanks to a carnation distillate. Still in the historical context, in reference to the great characters, it is said that when Marie Antoinette, during the French Revolution, was imprisoned, she continued to receive messages that were carefully delivered rolled up in clusters of carnations.

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3. Meaning

In the language of flowers and plants the carnation generically symbolizes virtue, passion and romanticism, but each color has a specific meaning: the white carnation represents pure love, fidelity and good luck; the pink carnation symbolizes affection and maternal tenderness; the red carnation symbolizes passionate and profound love; mottled carnations represent kindness; the green carnation that appeared in the novel by Oscar Wilde, "The green carnation" in which it was described, the love between Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, is a symbol of homosexual love.


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