Origin of the carnation

Carnation is a herbaceous plant that grows in temperate areas of the earth and is strongly widespread in the Mediterranean area: this characteristic was evident since ancient times, since the scientific name of the plant, “Dianthus”, derives from the Greek and means “Flower of the gods”. Not too large in size (the carnation usually does not exceed 80 cm in height), this plant produces generous inflorescences that decorate the green and bluish-gray leaves. The flowers are now widespread in many colors, since there are several cultivars selected both naturally and artificially, but the original color of the primary cultivar of this plant is pink – purple, a shade still considered the most classic and very appreciated. Given its spontaneous growth in the Mediterranean territories, carnation offers not only beauty, but also ease of cultivation, as it is naturally suitable for local climatic and environmental conditions. The small size, the ease of cultivation, the beauty and the intense fragrance of carnation are the factors that, all occurring together, have made the fortune of this plant, admired and now widespread all over the world.

Carnation and colors

As often happens with plants that have ancient origins and a vast diffusion, many others overlap one original meaning, changing by time and place: the carnation is no exception, whose ancient meaning linked to Greek mythology was over time replaced by different beliefs, depending on the epochs and geographic areas. In general, it is possible to reconstruct in the popular tradition a fairly clear and generally widespread division of the meaning of the carnation on the basis of the colors that distinguish it: these traditions have solidified with the spread of new cultivars and new chromatic characteristics. The red carnation is a symbol of passionate love and therefore takes up the ancient meaning, while the yellow carnation, on the contrary, symbolizes the uncertainty and doubt about one’s own feeling. Thepink carnation symbolizes a tender and loyal affection, while the white carnation symbolizes a proclamation of eternal fidelity. Not directly related to love, but still bearers of a kind thought are the mottled carnations, or the bunches of assorted colored carnations, which bring joy and a message of positivity to those who receive them. In general, the carnation is linked in the world to different meanings of virtue and nobility, of the person and his values ​​as well as of the sentiment that the flower intends to demonstrate.

Carnation and mythology

The carnation is a flower that boasts an ancient tradition in the Mediterranean, an area in which it has grown spontaneously for a very long time: in fact, ancient populations already knew and admired it, struck by the beauty and fragrance of its flowers. The carnation already became so popular among the ancient Greeks that this splendid flower can boast a chapter in Hellenic mythology. The carnation is associated with the goddess of the hunt, Diana: according to the myth, a young shepherd fell in love with the goddess, who seduced him and finally abandoned him. Unable to resign himself, the young man wept until he died and from his tears that fell to the ground some splendid flowers were born, or carnations. Linked to a tradition of sad origin, these flowers have remained to symbolize the passion of love even in the course of the following centuries, sometimes losing the link with the pain that is very common in Hellenic myths related to flowers as symbols of love, even if almost never completely: many popular traditions attribute to the carnation the ability to cure pains. ‘love. This painful theme returns instead to peep out in the Christian tradition, according to which the carnation was born from the tears shed by Mary at the death of her crucified son and fell to the ground.

Carnation in the kitchen

Among the advantages of the carnation it is necessary to add another very important one: the great versatility of this plant, which transcends pure aesthetics. Carnation, for example, is a very popular flower in the culinary tradition: its elegant petals can decorate dishes, but also constitute a delicate and good side dish. The petals, in fact, are edible and can enrich the dish with color and original flavor, as long as the flowers used have not been previously treated with chemicals. Carnation is used for food especially in the United States, where it is frequently found to flavor jellies, jams, sweets or fresh and refreshing drinks. The use of carnation, however, must be accompanied by an adequate knowledge of the different varieties: one of the peculiarities of this flower, in fact, is to vary considerably not only in color but also in flavor depending on the cultivar. The carnation, therefore, can have a sweetish taste, useful in the preparation of desserts and drinks, or a more intense and almost spicy taste, which is well suited to create contrasts in the cooking of first and second courses.

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