by Dylan Michael
My high school, realizing the importance of the well-being of the students, used flowers as a way to brighten student’s day. Every year the student council would organize Carnation Day, where each student could purchase carnations for someone else in the school. For only $1 per flower, a student could send as many carnations to as many people as they desired. Each color of the carnation had its own positive meaning. Yellow carnations said ‘you brighten my day’. White carnations signaled the recipient was your best friend. Pink carnations indicated that you care about the recipient. Purple carnations were a little goofy and meant that the recipient was a sexy beast. And last but not least, red carnations that symbolized your love.
At that moment I realized I had forgotten to send my girlfriend any flowers at all! I thought she was going to kill me . . .
On Carnation Day, I loved seeing hundreds of students walking around with colorful flowers in their hands and smiles on their faces. It was one of the best days of the school year because everyone was so happy that somebody cared enough about them to send them a carnation. My Senior year, I forgot about Carnation Day and did not order any flowers. When a dozen carnations were handed to me in homeroom, I was shocked. At that moment I realized I had forgotten to send my girlfriend any flowers at all! I thought she was going to kill me, but when we finally got to see each other, she wasn’t as upset as I thought she would be. Although I could sense the disappointment in her tone, I think I felt worse than she did by the end of the day.
To make up for my absentmindedness, I ran to the nearest flower shop and bought the nicest bouquet I could find. I made sure it contained at least one red carnation to emphasize my love. When I gave the bouquet to her, it was as if she had forgotten that I didn’t send her any flowers in the first place. I have found a bundle of flowers to be the best way to express my feelings towards the people closest to me. Even living over four hours away from home, I send a bouquet of flowers to my mom and girlfriend on the holidays as a way to show my love for them.
In my plant biology class, I learned that flower petals are modified leaves designed to attract pollinators. Even though people are not (usually) pollinators, we are still drawn to flowers. Even though keeping flowers for aesthetic reasons does not benefit us in terms of food, we still tend flowers in gardens and homes. Why is that?
Researchers from Ben Gurion University in Bersheva, Israel argue that people tend flowers because it makes people happy and improves people’s mood. In a 2018 article in the journal Behavioral Sciences, they write:
“Flowers are an apt example of being aware of the environment around us
and of how we engage with the world through skilled interaction through our
bodies—by using all of our senses. This happens through moving our bodies
within space rather than only by contemplating the environment. Flowers,
as described above, demand us to get close to smell them, to move
towards them to find them in nature, to water them, to pick them,
and to carry them in our hands.”
Flowers are nature’s most precious gifts. They are beautiful and fragrant. They can express your feelings for nearly any emotion including love, gratitude, sorrow, longing, happiness, or even admiration. Carnation Day was the best day of the year because love filled the air in my high school’s hallways. There was a smile on everybody’s face and everything seemed like a dream. Even though the flower is the gift, it is the meaning behind giving it as a gift which makes it priceless.
Dylan is a 20 year old junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying biology and pre-med. He is from a small town called Berwick, Pennsylvania, which is about an hour away from Scranton, Pennsylvania.