Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Carnation Day mystery

In the U.S.A. 29 January is known as Carnation Day (or National Carnation Day, or Red Carnation Day), and commemorates President William McKinley, who was shot on 6 September and died on 14 September 1901.  McKinley always wore a carnation, Dianthus caryophyllus, in his lapel ‘for luck’, but when a 12-year-old girl asked for his flower he gave it to her and continued to greet people. Later in the afternoon he was shot.  Although people started wearing carnations in his memory in 1902, initially there was some confusion, some people preferred to wear their flowers on the date of his death, others preferred the anniversary of his birth, 29 January 1843.  Eventually the January date became accepted.

The card here has the words ‘That thy birthday may be like Carnation Day is my sincerest wish’, assuming that the Carnation Day referred to is the one which commemorates McKinley, why should anyone wish anyone a birthday ‘like Carnation Day’?  Unfortunately the card though used is undated, but appears to have been produced in the second decade of the 20th century.

Comment:  It seems that the first sentence above should be written in the past tense, rather than the present, Wesley Adams writing from the U.S. in February 2024 reported he had never heard of Carnation Day.

Updated 9 February 2024.

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