The flowers for January are the carnation and the snowdrop.
Dating back to ancient times, the carnation, or dianthus (translated variously as “flower of love” or “flower of the gods”) has a long history, rich in meaning and symbolism. Christians believe that the first carnations, pink in color, sprang from the tears that The Virgin Mary wept for Jesus as he carried his own cross to the crucifixion. For this reason, pink carnations have always signified a mother’s love. Over the years since then, though, carnations have become available in peach, red, white, purple, yellow and – good for St. Patrick’s Day – green. They have a delicate, ruffled appearance, a rich scent reminiscent of cloves, and if cared for the blooms are long-lasting. Carnations have the advantage of being not particularly bound to the seasons and can be found in bloom throughout the year; this is a reason they are one of the January flowers, as winter’s shorter daylight hours do not overly impact their blossoming. Today, the carnation means love, distinction and fascination. Do take care, though, if you buy purple carnations for someone French, for in France this color is traditionally given at a funeral to express sympathy and condolences.
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The second flower for January is the snowdrop. These delightfully delicate, nodding flowers are much appreciated for their beauty, and are often among the first bulbs to bloom in the spring, and symbolizing purity and the cleansing and rebirth of the earth after winter. One English superstition, thought to date back to the practice of returning monks planting bulbs in monasteries and church yards, has the snowdrop as an omen of bad luck or an impending disaster; as a result some people will not take flowering snowdrops – particularly single flowers – indoors, as they are considered a signal of an approaching death. Growing the bulbs in a bowl, or cultivating them outdoors, however is safe.