Spain’s Floral Emblem is the Carnation - the Flower of Passion

Carnation: Spain's Floral Emblem

February 27, 2017

Add to Hatena Bookmark
Spain's National Flower

Hello. I am Yucchi, a fledgling translator who transferred last autumn from a different field. After reading my colleague Naho's blog post on Ireland's floral emblem, the Shamrock, I started to develop an interest in national flowers.

The other day, I went to see my first opera, Carmen. I was very moved by how passionate and intense the performances were. The image of Carmen wearing a red flower behind her ear especially left a strong impression. After some research, I found out that it was a carnation, known as Spain's floral emblem.

The Flower Beloved by Spaniards

Freedom of belief is protected by the Spanish constitution, yet according to the official website of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, about 75% of Spain's population is Catholic. From what I read on Minnano Hana Zukan (Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Flowers for Everyone), carnations first appeared where Virgin Mary shed tears at Jesus' plight of carrying the Cross, and therefore the flower also symbolizes the great love of a mother. Todos los Santos is the Spanish equivalent of All Saints' Day and the Obon festival in Japan (お盆: celebrating the return of ancestral spirits). On that day, people often bring carnations to the graves of deceased relatives.

Furthermore, according to information from a website called "Helo National," carnations are a type of edible flowers, just like roses. It seems that carnations are used to flavor wine and decorate sweets and cakes in Spain.

The Symbol of Passion

The Spanish word for carnation is Clavel. The aforementioned "Helo National" says that the meaning of carnations differs depending on their color. The red variation, particularly popular in Spain, represents true love. Subsequently, it is said that red carnations are often given on occasions where love is the main theme, such as on Valentine's day and wedding anniversaries.

As mentioned above, carnations are famous for being the ornament Carmen wears in her hair. However, it is also one of the flowers that flamenco dancers clench between their teeth when they dance. In Japan, Spain is considered the country of passion and enthusiasm, and the carnation is a perfect representation of that. A song called "Clavelitos" (the adapted Japanese title translates to "Give me your carnation") is often performed by university student bands ("Tunas") in Spain, and is said to be a serenade especially dedicated to the women they love.

Carnations and the Region of Andalusia

Andalusia is a lovely region located in south Spain, and also one of the country's popular tourist destinations. According to a website called "the flower expert," tourists can see an abundance of carnations decorated on the windows of the white houses, forming a riot of color. This is also believed to be one of the reasons why carnations became so popular in Spain. A variety of traditional events in Andalusia includes flamenco dancing, large scale parades and spirited religious ceremonies, bullfighting, and much more. Many scenes of flamenco dancing are also performed in the opera Carmen. Generally speaking, carnations are preferred to be used as Carmen's hair ornament instead of roses.

Carnations and Spain - A Red Flower for the Country of Passion

As a country, Spain gives off an impression of passion and enthusiasm, making it a perfect match for the crimson flower of carnation. Until recently, I have always thought that roses are the symbol of romance, and that carnations are just the flower given on Mother's day, but this research just might have changed my mind. The usual dozen roses are indeed very sweet, but a bouquet of carnations might be even lovelier!

Related Services

Add to Hatena Bookmark
<< Cattleya: Costa Rica's Floral Emblem A Surprisingly Familiar Country―My Findings on Bulgaria's Language and Culture  >>

To Contact Us Regarding Our Translation Services

For urgent needs, call:

Back to Top