At the start of the new year there is always a rage about “new beginnings”. Out with the old. In with the new. But last week I was listening to the radio and the presenter was asking, not about what new things you would like to start in 2017, but what good things started in 2016 you would like to carry over into the new year. It was a lovely thought. We often think that we need to rid ourselves of everything that has happened during the year and start fresh, but if we keep just starting fresh, how do we develop and grow if we aren’t continuing to do something good?
It got me thinking about which initiatives I had started in 2016 and not carried on with. The “new beginnings” which turned into “meh”. And one of my favourite things about 2016 was starting my “herb of the week” posts on instagram. Eventually I faded them out though. I told myself they were laborious to put together and the overload of work from university got the better of me. But in essence I loved putting them together and I loved the response I received from the Instagram community.
So here I am, sitting at my computer, deciding that I will be carrying over the “herb of the week” posts from 2016 and making them the “herb of the month” blog posts. And with that declaration, January’s herb of the month is the Carnation.
Carnations are the birth flower for January and are thought to be one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world. With such a long history, there’s no wonders to the many legends, uses and symbolism.
My favourite legend related to carnations is a Korean one. They believed that carnations could tell the fortune of young girls. After placing three freshly cut carnations in her hair, the young girl is charged with observing which of the three will die first. If the top flower dies off first, it indicates that the latter years of the girl’s life will be filled with strife. If the middle flower fades first, it indicates she will experience turmoil during her youth. If the lower flower dies and fades first, it indicates that the young woman will face great challenges throughout her lifetime.
Medicinally, carnations aren’t very commonly used. However, they have been used in teas as an aromatic, stimulant herb to treat fevers, stress, insomnia as well as female hormonal imbalances. The flowers are considered to be antispasmodic, cardiotonic, diaphoretic & nervine. The ancient Aztec’s even used carnation tea as a diuretic & to treat chest congestion.
Lastly, one thing I have learnt over my studies and interactions with herbs and flowers is that every plant has a meaning. Also, I’m reading a wonderful book called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and it makes my heart incredibly happy! Each different colour carnation has it’s own meaning.
Pink – says “I’ll always be there for you.”
Red – says “My heart aches for you”
Purple – symbolises unpredictability and means that something is about to change
White – symbolises sweetness, innocence & pure love
Yellow – symbolises friendship
Striped – a symbol of refusal, “I’m sorry I can’t be with you”