January at Aquarium School
Tea & a Craft for the Days of the Blackbird

Happy Carnation Day!


"The blossoms were used to make crowns and wreaths by the Greeks and later the English, and were called "coronations." They were called gillyflowers or July-flowers, presumably because they bloomed in July. In the fifteenth century, the name "carnation" (from "coronation") was given both to single (pinks) and double blooms (Clove gillefloures)." (From Mary's Flowers: Gardens, Legends & Meditations)

So if you've ever wondered what gillyflowers were (Hot July brings cooling showers, apricots and gillyflowers ...), there you are. :)

I remember patches of dianthus (or pinks) grew all over my grandparents' backyard, their tiny blooms frilled, their leaves silvery and soft. Whenever I inhale the spicy clove scent of carnations, I am transported back to that cool shady hill where I concocted my little "perfumes," pounding the petals of pinks, violets and tea roses with a small rock and then immersing the resulting mash in dixie cups of water. It never looked very pretty, but I loved how it smelled. :)

We don't have any pinks growing here at our house now, but I've just made a note to plant some this spring. For now, I'll have to content myself with small bouquets of carnations, such as the one at my desk, shown at the top of this post.

If you'd like an easy activity for your children on Carnation Day, there is the always-popular colored carnations experiment. Or how about crafting a small beribboned corsage for a teacher or an elderly neighbor or relative? And here is a labeled coloring page of the scarlet carnation, Ohio's state flower.

Now, how about for we mums? Well, there are always fresh carnations for sale at the local grocer's. Such a small treat brightens any gray winter's day. I am also sorely tempted to place an order for this pretty soap or perhaps these. Wouldn't carnation soap make for a lovely wintertime bath?

Here is one more idea, a "Spicy Clove Bath" from my old, old copy of The Book of the Bath:

  • 2 cups rosewater
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 ounce crushed cloves
  • 2 cups wine vinegar

Combine ingredients and boil for 1 hour, adding more water to the original level as it boils down. Store for a week in a cool dark place. Add 1/2 cup to warm bath water, or combine 1 part vinegar to 8 parts water for a delightful bath splash.

However you choose to spend it, have a lovely January 29th! :)