Skip to content

A lesser-known holiday that has been celebrated for more than a century, National Carnation Day pays honor and respect to this flower, as well as remembering US Presidents who died while in office. 

History of National Carnation Day

One of the older days to be celebrated, National Carnation Day was established in 1903 and has a long history that goes back to the 25th President of the United States, William McKinley. His assassination in 1901 rocked the nation as he was the third president to be killed in only 36 years, following Lincoln and Garfield. In fact, McKinley’s death prompted the US to create systematic and continuous protection for the President, which has been beneficial ever since. 

US President William McKinley was fond of carnations and often wore the flower on his lapel because he had always associated it with good luck. It is also said that, during his presidency, McKinley always had a vase of carnations kept in his office.

Because of this, McKinley’s birthday, January 29, was established as National Carnation Day (sometimes called National Red Carnation Day). In addition to this symbolism for McKinley, the day has additional significance because the flower that symbolizes the birth month of January has traditionally been the carnation.

National Carnation Day offers the opportunity for people to enjoy the beauty of this simple flower while remembering the US presidents who gave their lives in service to their country.

How to Celebrate National Carnation Day

Join in on the fun and beauty of National Carnation Day with some of these ideas for celebrating the day and bringing joy:

Give Away Some Carnations

Carnations are lovely flowers that are hearty and tend to have a long life. They can be purchased in large bouquets of a number of flowers for a relatively affordable price. They look great in a vase with a large bunch or as single in a bud vase.

In honor of National Carnation Day, consider buying up a large bouquet of carnations and passing them out to special people. Or, even better, make it an inspired random act of kindness and just hand them out to various strangers or passersby! 

Learn More About Carnations

Especially for those who are interested in horticulture and gardening, National Carnation Day would be a great time to gather a bit more information about these lovely flowers. Get started with some of these bits of trivia about carnations:

  • Carnation colors can be changed

    As a fun little experiment, try placing a white or light-colored carnation in water that contains food coloring, then watch the color change as it soaks up the water.

  • Carnations are the second most popular

    Next to roses, carnations are the second most popular choice of flowers to be given in celebration of special occasions.

  • Carnations are edible

    Many people don’t realize that carnations are an edible flower that can be eaten when used to decorate cakes, baked goods or even salads.

Also on ...

View all holidays
View all holidays