Not yet on summer's death nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest flowers o' th' season
Are our Carnation and streak'd gillyvors
Which some call nature's bastards.
The Winter's Tale, William Shakespeare 1564-1616
The Carnation changes its meaning according to its color, so while the Striped Carnation means Refusal and the Yellow Carnation Disdain, the Red Carnation signifies the blood of Christ.
The cultivation of these confident flowers goes back over two thousand years and it is said that the plant came to England from the Normans. It may be found growing wild in the walls of the Norman castles of Dover and Rochester and is believed to have been rooted to the stones imported from France.
The Athenains honored Carnations by calling them Di-anthos, Flower of Jove, and used the flowers to make wreaths and garlands at their festivals, hence came the word "coronation" from which Carnation is derived.
Carnations were sometimes added to wine and ale to add spiciness and are still known as sops-in-wine in some parts of the English countryside.
The Carnation was associated with vanity and pride, possibly because it was at first a rare and valuable flower. Poets sang its praises as a sign of friendship because it keeps its color to the last.
Anna Jarvis of Philadelphia, in 1907,chose the carnation as the symbol of Mother's Day.