Why Carnations Remain The Top Mother's Day Flowers

In the quiet moments after a Sunday school class, a mother’s prayer filled the room as her 12-year-old daughter listened intently. “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will find a memorial mothers day...," her mother said. “She is entitled to it.”

These words, infused with hope, ignited a flame within the young girl. Two years later, she embarked on a mission. That girl was Anna Jarvis, and she vowed to make her mother’s wish come true.

Join us as we explore Anna's mission and unravel the story behind how the carnation became the ‘official’ flower for Mother's Day. Plus, the meanings behind each carnation colour.

Quote by Anna Jarvis

Credits to Getty Images

A Daughter’s Promise

Anna Jarvis’ promise to create Mother's Day began in 1876 when her mother hoped for a day dedicated to honour mothers. Inspired by her mother's words, Anna embarked on a mission to fulfil this heartfelt wish. 

After years of dedication and advocacy, Anna's efforts came to fruition when Mother’s Day was officially recognised and established in the United States in 1914 under the presidency of President Woodrow Wilson. Mother’s Day was officially observed on the second Sunday of May, which is also the same day on which Ann Jarvis (Anna’s mother) died. 

Interestingly, Mrs. Jarvis (Anna’s mother) spelled Mother’s Day without the possessive form (no apostrophe) as she envisioned this day is about recognising all mothers’ involvement in improving the lives of others. 

But to Anna, Mother’s Day is a personal occasion for individuals to express their love, appreciation and utmost gratitude for their own mothers, emphasising the importance of familial bonds and motherly love. Hence why the apostrophe had to be singular, not plural. 

Anna Jarvis’ legacy lives on up to this day, and Mother's Day continues to be celebrated worldwide as a day to cherish mothers and celebrate the joys of motherhood.

The ‘Official’ Mother’s Day Flower

Person holding white carnations

Credits to Silvia Rossana Garavaglia

On May 10th, 1908, Anna Jarvis held the first-ever ceremony in the West Virginia church to honour mothers both alive and deceased. She sent hundreds of her late mother’s favourite flowers that day, and those flowers were white carnations.

The white carnation was later declared the ‘official’ flower of Mother’s Day by Anna. Nearby neighbourhoods and churches also started giving out carnations, and thus, the tradition of giving carnations to moms on Mother’s Day was born.

“Its whiteness is to symbolise the truth, purity, and broad charity of mother love; its fragrance, her memory, and her prayers. The carnation does not drop its petals but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother’s love never dies,” said Anna.

“When I selected this flower, I was remembering my mother’s bed of white pinks.”

Carnation Colour Meanings

Close up of carnations in a various colours

Credits to Sunnyday Pictures

Though white carnations were initially distributed for Mother's Day (and is the official flower for this celebration), over time, white carnations were given out to mothers who have passed away. In contrast, red carnations and pink carnations are for living mothers. The bright, fluffy petals were said to resemble a mother’s beating heart and her unconditional love for her family. 

Below are the other meanings for different carnation colours:

Red Carnation: Represents admiration and affection.

Dark Red Carnation: Signifies deep and passionate love.

Brown Carnation: Means stability, nurturing and sincerity.

White Carnation: Embodies purity, good luck and faithfulness.

Pink Carnation: Represents feelings of gratitude and fascination.

Orange Carnation: Denotes happiness, warmth and creativity.

Purple Carnation: Associated with thrill and adventure.

Yellow Carnation: Symbolic of disappointment and rejection. Not the happiest meaning for a ‘happy’ colour so you may want to avoid this for Mother’s Day.

Carnations Are Underrated

When people think about sending flowers to someone, carnations would be the last flowers to cross their minds. These fluffy flowers are not as popular as other flowers like roses, peonies and tulips. They are often used as fillers in flower arrangements and their ‘cheap price’ is misunderstood as ‘low quality’. However, this is not true!

Person holding two-toned carnations

Credits to Merve

Carnations are sturdy and long-lasting, making them an excellent Mother’s Day gift. This allows your mom to admire them for a little longer than most fresh-cut flowers. They also come in various colours - some even two-toned! Plus, their ruffled petals almost look like those of a peony. So, if you want an affordable peony alternative, consider getting carnations.

Make Mom Smile With Flowers This Mother’s Day

While any flower will make any mom happy on Mother’s Day, carnations are perfect for the occasion. They are not only long-lasting but they also carry an abundance of meaningful symbolisms and rich history that commemorates moms all around the world.

Mother's Day Collection by Luna Floral Atelier

Mother's Day Collection

However, you can still choose to send flowers other than carnations on Mother’s Day for your mom. As long as it is from the heart and with sincerity, she will love the flowers regardless. 

Before you go, tell us - what is your mom’s smile worth? 😊 If words are not your strongest suit, show the worth of her smile with a bouquet that speaks volumes of your unconditional love and appreciation! Order heartfelt flowers today and make mom smile this Mother’s Day.


If you decide to surprise your mom with our flowers, don’t forget to tag us at @lunafloral.my for a chance to get featured. We can’t wait to see you and your mom with our beautiful flowers! For inquiries, please contact our team here or on our socials. Happy Mother’s Day, flower lovers!


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