Discovering What Do Red Camellias Symbolize: The Hidden Meanings Behind the Beautiful Flower

Camellias have become increasingly popular in gardens all around the world due to their vibrant colours and delicate blooms. While the different colours of camellias hold unique meanings, none are quite as significant as the red camellia. Noted for its dramatic look, the red camellia has become a meaningful symbol in many cultures. So, what do red camellias symbolize?

In Japan, the red camellia symbolizes love, passion, and deep desire. It’s often given as a gift to someone you have strong feelings for, representing the giver’s affection. This makes it a popular flower for Valentine’s day and other romantic celebrations. Meanwhile, in Korea, the red camellia is often given to a loved one as a token of love and admiration, particularly for those who are hardworking and persevering.

In Chinese culture, the red camellia represents wealth, prosperity, and good luck. It’s often used in traditional medicine and is believed to improve health and prevent the onset of diseases. The Chinese also believe that red camellias can bring good fortune to a home and are often planted around entrances to homes or businesses. With its many symbolic meanings, it’s no surprise that the red camellia is a beloved flower around the world!

History of Camellias

Camellias are a species of flowering plant native to East Asia, primarily China and Japan. They have a long history of cultural significance and have been cultivated for their ornamental beauty for centuries.

It is believed that camellias were first cultivated for their tea leaves in China during the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD). However, it wasn’t until the 16th century that the camellia plant was brought to Europe by Portuguese traders.

The camellia flower quickly became popular in Europe and was highly prized for its beauty and exotic origin. Today, camellias can be found all over the world and have become an important part of many cultures.

Symbolism of Red Camellias

  • Love: Red camellias are often associated with romantic love and passion. They are a popular choice for Valentine’s Day and other romantic occasions.
  • Affection: Red camellias can also symbolize a strong and enduring affection between two people. They make a thoughtful gift for family members or close friends.
  • Courage: In some cultures, red camellias are associated with bravery and courage. They can be used as a symbol of support for someone going through a difficult time.

Camellias in Art and Literature

Camellias have long been a subject of inspiration for artists, poets, and writers. French author Alexandre Dumas wrote a novel called “The Lady of the Camellias” in 1848, which tells the story of a tragic love affair between a young man and a courtesan who always carried a white camellia, a symbol of purity and innocence. The novel was later adapted into the famous opera, “La Traviata”, by Giuseppe Verdi.

Camellias have also been a popular subject for artists, with many famous painters including them in their works. French impressionist Claude Monet painted a series of camellia paintings in the 1870s, which are still admired for their beautiful use of color and light.

Camellias in Culture

In Japan, the camellia flower has a special meaning. It is often referred to as the “flower of the gods” and is associated with the Shinto religion. The camellia is also the official state flower of Alabama in the United States.

JapanFlower of the gods
United StatesState flower of Alabama

Camellias have also been used in traditional medicine for their antioxidant properties and ability to reduce inflammation. Camellia oil, which is extracted from the seeds of the camellia plant, is commonly used in skincare products for its moisturizing and anti-aging benefits.

Varieties of Camellias

Camellia, a genus of flowering plants, features over 100 species and thousands of cultivars bred for their stunning blooms. These are prized all over the world as garden plants for various reasons.

  • Japonica: Japonica camellias, with their large, elegant blooms, are the most commonly cultivated type of camellia and can be found in a wide range of colors, including red, pink, white, and variegated. They bloom in the winter.
  • Sasanqua: Sasanqua camellias are smaller and more delicate than japonica camellias. They bloom from late autumn to early winter, and their flowers have a sweet, fruity scent. They come in various shades of white, pink, and red.
  • Hybrid: Hybrid camellias are a cross between japonica and sasanqua camellias, combining the cold hardiness of the former and the early blooming of the latter. These hybrids can bloom from early winter to spring and come in a range of colors and petal arrangements.

These are just a few examples of the many types of camellias. Each species and cultivar has unique characteristics, making them popular not only for ornamental purposes but also for medicinal, culinary, and cosmetic uses.

Camellias, specifically red camellias, are often gifted as a symbol of love and devotion. In Chinese culture, they are associated with the planet Venus and represent admiration, perfection, and sophistication. In Japan, they represent the divine, are offered to the ancestors, and symbolize the samurai warriors.”

JaponicaLarge blooms, wide range of colors, blooms in winter
SasanquaSmaller blooms, sweet scent, white, pink, and red, blooms from late autumn to early winter
HybridCold hardiness, early blooming, range of colors, blooms from early winter to spring

A variety of camellias provide a unique symbolization that can suitably express the emotions for a certain situation. Each species and cultivar provides different characteristics that can greatly influence the message.

Symbolism of Camellias in Different Cultures

The beauty of camellias is undisputed, but their symbolism varies greatly across different cultures. While in the West, they are primarily seen as a symbol of love and affection, they can have very different meanings in other parts of the world. Let’s explore some of the most significant cultural interpretations of camellias:

The Number 3

  • In China, the number 3 is considered lucky, and red camellias are often given as a gift in sets of three.
  • In Japanese culture, the number 3 is also significant, representing the past, present, and future. The camellia flower is often used in tea ceremonies and symbolizes feminine beauty and restraint.
  • In the Christian faith, the number 3 represents the trinity, and the Virgin Mary is sometimes depicted holding a camellia flower, which is said to represent her purity and her connection to the Holy Trinity.

These are just a few examples of how the number 3 and the camellia flower are intertwined in different cultures. It’s fascinating to see how a single flower can have such varied meanings depending on where it is seen.

Red Camellia Meaning in Chinese Culture

Camellias are a beloved flower in Chinese culture, often symbolizing adoration, devotion, and long-lasting affection. Red camellias, in particular, are steeped in rich symbolism.

  • Love and Romance: Red camellias are commonly associated with love and romance in Chinese culture. They are often given as gifts to express feelings of deep affection and passion towards a romantic partner.
  • Recognition and Achievement: In Chinese culture, red symbolizes celebration and achievement. Therefore, red camellias can also represent recognition for a significant accomplishment or congratulatory well wishes.
  • Blood and Sacrifice: While less commonly known, red camellias can also be linked to the theme of sacrifice in Chinese culture. Due to the flower’s deep crimson hue, red camellias have been associated with the bloodshed and sacrifice of the country’s revolutionary heroes.

Interestingly, the number four also plays a significant role in the symbolism of red camellias in Chinese culture.

Four PetalsFour petals on a red camellia are said to symbolize the number of children in a happy family. This makes the flower a popular choice for houses with a large number of children or couples hoping to start a family.
Four FlowersIn Chinese, the word for “camellia” is pronounced similarly to the word for “wish”. Because of this, four red camellias are often given as a gift, each representing a different wish: wealth, health, happiness, and a smooth journey.

Whether you are expressing your love and admiration, congratulating a friend on their accomplishments, or wishing someone good luck, a gift of a red camellia is sure to convey the appropriate sentiments, steeped in centuries of Chinese culture and tradition.

Red Camellia Meaning in Japanese Culture

Red camellias, or Tsubaki in Japanese, are known for their striking beauty, but they also hold significant cultural meaning in Japan. Let’s delve deeper into the meaning of red camellias in Japanese culture with a focus on the number 5.

The Number 5

  • The number 5 is considered lucky in Japanese culture, and it’s believed that red camellias can bring good fortune and happiness to those who possess them in groups of five.
  • Five-petaled camellias are particularly prized, as they represent the five human attributes of benevolence, righteousness, intelligence, courage, and sincerity.
  • In Japanese tea ceremonies, the number five is also significant, with the five elements of water, fire, earth, air, and spirit often represented.

Symbolism of Red Camellias

Red camellias are often associated with love, passion, and deep desire. They represent a burning flame of admiration or love and are often used to convey deep affection. In Japan, they are a symbol of the samurai’s spirit and often used to represent the country’s warrior class.

Additionally, red camellias are associated with self-discipline and have been used throughout history to represent those who hold true to their values and beliefs, even in the face of adversity.

Red Camellias in Japanese Art and Literature

Red camellias have long been a popular motif in Japanese literature and art. They can be found in ancient Japanese poetry, such as the Man’yoshu, and in classical Japanese art, including paintings, prints, and textiles.

The famous Japanese novelist, Yasunari Kawabata, wrote a short story entitled “The Dancing Girl of Izu” in which red camellias feature heavily. The story follows a young man who falls in love with a traveling dancer and features scenes set amidst a backdrop of a beautiful red camellia garden.

Red Camellias and Geisha Culture

Red CamelliaLove, passion, deep desire
White CamelliaPerfection and purity
Pink CamelliaLonging or a wish to be reunited with someone

In Japanese culture, geisha are highly revered for their artistic skills, including their dance, music, and traditional tea ceremony. They are often adorned with beautiful silk kimonos, and their hair is elaborately styled and adorned with iconic hair ornaments.

It’s believed that geisha would often wear a single red camellia in their hair when they were in a romantic relationship or seeking love. The placement of the flower in the hair was also said to have significant meaning, with a red camellia placed on the right signifying love received, and on the left, symbolizing a yearning or love desired.

In conclusion, red camellias hold significant cultural meaning in Japanese culture. Whether you’re drawn to their striking beauty or are interested in their cultural significance, understanding the symbolism and history of these flowers can give you a deeper appreciation for their beauty.

Red Camellia Meaning in Korean Culture

Camellias hold a special place in Korean culture, with their deep red blooms symbolizing love, passion, and the brilliance of life. In Korea, the red camellia is known as “Mujigae hongsa” which translates to “rainbow-red bird.” This bird represents happiness and is often used in folktales as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity.

  • Red Camellias in Weddings
  • Red camellias are a popular flower of choice for Korean weddings, representing love and faithfulness. Korean brides often carry a bouquet of red camellias mixed with other flowers in shades of pink and white. The groom may also wear a red camellia boutonniere to match the bride’s bouquet.

  • Red Camellias and Funerals
  • In Korea, red camellias are also used as a symbol of respect and remembrance. They are often seen at funerals, representing the eternal nature of love and the strong emotions associated with grief.

  • The Number 6 and Red Camellias
  • The number 6 is significant in Korean culture and is often associated with the red camellia. This is due to the appearance of the flower’s petals, which resemble the Chinese character “六” that means six. The number 6 is considered lucky in Korean culture, as it represents success, wealth, and good health. The red camellia is seen as a symbol of good fortune, and the combination of the two is believed to bring happiness and prosperity.

Overall, the red camellia carries significant meanings in Korean culture, representing love, passion, respect, remembrance, and good fortune.

LoveThe red camellia represents love and passion.
RespectThe red camellia is a symbol of respect and remembrance.
Good FortuneThe combination of the number 6 and the red camellia is believed to bring happiness and prosperity.

Overall, the red camellia holds significant meaning and value in Korean culture, with its symbolism deeply embedded in the country’s traditions and beliefs.

Red Camellia Meaning in Western Culture

The red camellia flower is a popular choice in Western culture, where it is often used to represent love and passion. Throughout history, various meanings have been associated with this beautiful flower, including those related to its color, number, and cultural symbolism.

The Number 7

The number seven has long been revered for its mystical and spiritual significance in many cultures throughout the world. In Western culture, the number seven is often associated with good luck, perfection, and completion. Some people also believe that the number seven represents the seven days of creation described in the Book of Genesis.

  • Seven red camellia flowers are often given to symbolize good luck and fortune.
  • Seven red camellia flowers arranged in a bouquet can represent completeness and perfection, making them an excellent choice for weddings and other special occasions.
  • Alternatively, seven red camellia flowers can also symbolize the seven chakras or energy centers in the human body in some spiritual traditions.

Whether you believe in the spiritual significance of the number seven or simply love the look of a bouquet of seven beautiful red camellias, this flower can hold a special meaning to those who know and appreciate its symbolism.

The Color Red

In Western culture, the color red is most commonly associated with love, passion, and romance. The intense, vibrant color of the red camellia perfectly captures these emotions, making it a popular choice for Valentine’s Day gifts and other romantic occasions.

However, in some cultures, the color red is also associated with danger, warning, and aggression. It is important to consider the cultural background of the recipient when choosing red camellias as a gift.


Red camellias hold a rich and diverse cultural significance in Western culture, including both the number 7 and the color red. Whether given as a romantic gift or to symbolize good luck and fortune, the red camellia can hold a special meaning to those who appreciate its beauty and symbolism.

Good LuckSeven red camellia flowers
CompletenessSeven red camellia bouquet
SpiritualitySeven red camellia flowers and the seven chakras
Love and PassionThe color red in Western culture

Overall, the red camellia is a beautiful and meaningful flower that can communicate a wide range of emotions and ideas.

Red Camellia and Love

Red camellias are synonymous with love and passion. These flowers have been used to convey love, admiration, and affection by people for centuries. The red color of the camellia represents deep love and affection. In this article, we will dive into the symbolism of red camellias regarding love.

The Number 8

The number 8 is a significant number in Chinese culture and symbolizes luck and wealth. As the camellia originated in China, the number 8 is also relevant to the symbolism of red camellias. In Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered lucky as it sounds similar to the word ‘fortune’ or ‘wealth’ in Mandarin.

  • The camellia has eight petals, representing good fortune and prosperity.
  • The number eight is also associated with infinity, signifying never-ending love.
  • In numerology, the number eight represents ambition, success, and achievement, which are all desirable qualities in a loving relationship.

Symbolism of Red Camellias in Love

Red camellias are known to represent love, admiration, and affection. They are often given as gifts to show romantic love and passion. The deep red color of the camellia represents intense love and devotion and is often used to express feelings in a relationship. Here are some examples of how red camellias symbolize love:

  • Red camellias are commonly used to represent a declaration of love or a confession of feelings.
  • They can be used to show appreciation for a loved one or to express gratitude for their presence in your life.
  • Red camellias are often given as a romantic gesture, especially on occasions like Valentine’s Day or anniversaries.
Valentine’s DayDeep Love and Passion
AnniversaryCommitment and Devotion
ProposalConfession of Love

Red camellias are a beautiful and meaningful way to express your love and admiration for someone. Whether it is for a special occasion or just to show how much you care, these flowers are a perfect way to convey deep emotions.

Red Camellia and Mourning

Red camellias have been associated with mourning and sympathy for centuries. In Japan, the red camellia is called “tsubaki” and is often seen at funerals. The flower has been used to express grief, particularly in countries such as Korea and Japan where white lilies and chrysanthemums are associated with death. The camellia, in all colors, has also been linked to love and devotion, but the red camellia specifically is a symbol of sadness and longing.

  • The red camellia is often used in funeral wreaths and arrangements in Asian cultures.
  • Camellia flowers can also be sent to express condolences to someone who has lost a loved one.
  • In Victorian times, the red camellia represented a “flame in the heart”, conveying a burning love or intense longing for someone who could not be obtained.

It’s important to note that while the red camellia is associated with mourning, it can also be a symbol of hope in some cultures. In Chinese astrology, the camellia represents longevity and faithfulness.

Love and DevotionGeneral
Hope and LongevityChina

In conclusion, the red camellia has long been associated with mourning and sadness in various cultures. While also symbolizing love and devotion, its use in funerals and sympathy arrangements solidifies its place as a flower of mourning.

Red Camellia in Art and Literature

The red camellia is one of the most popular flowers in art and literature, and it has been featured in various mediums throughout history. This flower has been portrayed in many different ways, such as a symbol of love, passion, hope, and even death.

  • In art, the red camellia has been painted by famous artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, and Henri Matisse. Van Gogh’s painting of a vase full of red camellias, titled “Vase with Red and White Carnations,” is considered one of his most stunning still-life artworks. Meanwhile, Monet painted his famous “Camellias” series in which he captured the beauty and elegance of red camellias in various stages of bloom.
  • In literature, the red camellia is featured in many works, such as in Alexandre Dumas’ novel “The Count of Monte Cristo”, where the flower symbolizes love and passion. The red camellia also appeared in William Faulkner’s “The Hamlet”, where it is a symbol of hope and inspiration. In Japanese culture, the red camellia is featured prominently in haiku poetry as a symbol of beauty, longing, and melancholy.

The red camellia has also been used in many different forms of symbolism throughout history. In China, the red camellia is associated with the divine, and it is often placed on altars or used in religious offerings. In Korea, the red camellia is associated with the soul, and it is believed that the flower helps guide the departed to the afterlife.

Overall, the red camellia has a deep and rich history in art and literature, and its symbolism has been interpreted in many different ways throughout the ages.

What Do Red Camellias Symbolize?

Q: Are red camellias associated with love?
Yes, red camellias are often seen as a symbol of love, admiration, and passion. They are commonly used to express romantic feelings and emotions.

Q: Can red camellias also symbolize grief?
Yes, in certain cultures and traditions, red camellias can represent sorrow, condolences, and remembrance. They may be used in funeral arrangements or given to someone who is going through a difficult time.

Q: Do red camellias hold any spiritual significance?
Red camellias are believed to have protective properties and are often associated with the divine feminine. In some spiritual practices, they are used as offerings to honor ancestors or deities.

Q: Are red camellias commonly used in weddings?
Yes, red camellias can be a popular choice for wedding bouquets and decorations. They are seen as a symbol of eternal love and devotion, making them a fitting flower for a marriage ceremony.

Q: Can red camellias also be used in corporate settings?
Yes, red camellias can be a professional and sophisticated choice for corporate events and arrangements. They can represent ambition, success, and determination, making them a fitting choice for business occasions.

Q: Are there any superstitions surrounding red camellias?
In some cultures, it is believed that giving someone a single red camellia flower may be considered bad luck or foretell illness. However, this superstition is not widely held and varies depending on the region.

Q: How can I care for my red camellia plant?
Red camellias require well-drained soil, plenty of sunlight, and regular watering. They can be prone to fungal diseases, so it is important to monitor for any signs of leaf damage or discoloration.

Thanks for Reading

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of what red camellias symbolize. Whether you are expressing love, offering condolences, or honoring a divine presence, these beautiful flowers hold a special meaning. Don’t forget to care for your own red camellia plants, and visit us again soon for more articles on flowers and their meanings.