January Birth Flowers

The snowdrop is an alternate January birth flower.

The snowdrop is an alternate January birth flower.

Carnations and snowdrops are both the January birth flower. Although the snowdrop isn’t as popular as the carnation, this flower, too, represents celebrating a January birthday. Unlike carnations, which are cultivated in a variety of different colors, the snowdrop is a small flower that is milky white in color. As early bloomers, snowdrops are seen as a sign that spring is imminent.

The Carnation

Carnations rank among the most popular flowers that florists sell. Cut carnations are inexpensive flowers typically available at floral shops throughout the year. The botanical name for the carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus. While carnations are grown in many different colors, originally the flower was light pink in color. The carnation may get its name from the word carnis, the Latin word for flesh.


In Greek, the word carnation means “the flowers of god,” referring to the Greek god Zeus. Symbolism surrounding the flower dates back as early as biblical times. Legend has it carnations grew where the tears of Christ’s mother fell as she followed Him as He carried the cross to Calvary. While the carnation generally symbolizes devoted love, different colors of carnations have come to mean different things. The traditional pink carnation is a symbol of a mother’s undying love. White carnations are said to symbolize pure love. Light red carnations imply admiration, whereas dark red carnations stand for deep love. The flower can also send a message of consolation to a friend in trouble.

Carnation History

The carnation, which has been around for more than 2,000 years, is native to the Near East. History dates carnations back to the Greeks and Romans who used the flowers to make garlands. The flower was first imported to the U.S. in 1852. Up until the mid 20th century, carnations were commercially cultivated in the northeastern portion of the United States. Today, most of the carnations sold in the U.S. are imported from Columbia. Although some carnations are still produced in this country, they are grown in Colorado and Southern California.

Carnation Uses

Although carnations are available in a wide array of colors, including striped and bi-colors, red, white and pink remain the most popular colors. Florists also dye white carnations to create colors for specific holidays and events. Carnations have long been a popular flower used for making corsages and boutonnieres for teenagers going to proms and other school dances. The flowers are frequently used in bridal bouquets and as centerpieces decorating tables for weddings, birthday parties and other special affairs. Carnation blooms are long-lasting; therefore, they make beautiful additions to floral arrangements for any occasion or in vase bouquets.

The Snowdrop

Galanthus nivalis is the botanical name for the snowdrop. The name means “milk white flowers” in Latin. In northern regions of the U.S., snowdrops bloom early, usually in January or February. Snowdrops are hardy flowers that sometimes bloom even before the first crocuses appear, often growing through the snow. The flowers bloom throughout the winter in southern states where the weather remains mild. These small flowers look like drops of milk hanging down from the plant’s stem. Of the more than 75 different varieties of snowdrops, they are all white in color. Snowdrops resemble the Snowflake flower which grows along the east coast of North America.

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