THE CARNATION’S SCIENTIFIC NAME, Dianthus, is derived from two Greek words: dios, meaning god or Zeus, and anthos, meaning flower. Thus, carnations have become known as the Flowers of God. The flower’s association with a mother’s love originates from Christian legend. It is said that as the Virgin Mary watched Jesus be crucified, she cried tears that fell to the ground and grew into gorgeous carnations. Nearly two millennia later, Anna Jarvis held a ceremony in memory of her late mother at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia on May 10, 1908. At that service, known as the first official observance of Mother’s Day, Jarvis distributed 500 white carnations to all the mothers in attendance, starting a tradition that remains to this day. Different color petals symbolize the different virtues of motherhood, including love, charity, beauty and faithfulness. White is the most popular, worn in memory of a mother who has passed away, while pink is worn to honor those living.