1888: The Carnation

Pink Carnation

The practice of marking special occasions with gifts of flowers most likely began when Helen Dodge was gifted with a basket of flowers upon her graduation. At the Convention held at Delta Chapter at Boston University in 1888, the carnation was chosen as the Sorority’s official flower. The color of the carnation, however, was not specified for decades to come. Red, pink and white carnations were used to mark occasions and as decorations at Gamma Phi Beta gatherings. By all accounts, however, pink was always the preferred color and in 1950, they determined that only pink carnations should be used during ritual services.

Early members of Delta Chapter (Boston), 1888.

Scientifically known as Dianthus caryophyllus, the carnation’s name roughly translates to either “flower of love” or “flower of the gods,” depending upon the source, and the flower itself has an ancient history. Frances Haven recalled the simplest and best of all reasons for choosing it, however, saying, “We chose the carnation as our flower because of its beauty and lasting fragrance.”