How Florida Got Its Name & The Many Nicknames Associated With It

Let’s take a look at how the 27th state to join the U.S. got its name and the many nicknames that perfectly describe it.

A Name Blooms

It was Easter Sunday when Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon laid eyes on a lush and thriving land.

The explorer’s homeland of Spain was celebrating Pascua Florida, the feast of flowers, as he claimed the newly found territory on April 2nd.

In honor of the Eastertime tradition, Ponce de Leon named the region “Florida” which is Spanish for “land of flowers.”

The story that Ponce de Leon was chasing the Fountain of Youth was added to his lore long after his death.

Even if the fountain wasn’t what really brought him to the peninsula, it’s not hard to imagine that this land of flourishing flowers could be home to a mythical spring of everlasting life.

Nicknames Blossom

The Sunshine State

Florida has roughly 230 days of sunshine a year, so it’s easy to see how it got this name. The nickname was officially adopted by the 1970 legislature.

The Everglade State

Florida is home to the Everglades National Park, which is the largest continuous stand of sawgrass prairie in North America and the only subtropical preserve on the continent.

The Alligator State

There are approximately 1.25 million alligators inhabiting the state, which is tied with Louisiana for the most. Florida declared the alligator their official state reptile in 1987.

The Orange State

Florida produces more than 90 percent of America’s orange juice and is only second to Brazil in global production.

The Flower State

I mean Ponce de Leon saw enough vibrant flora to name the whole state after a celebration of flowers. It’s also no coincidence that the state flower is the orange blossom.

The Peninsula State

The state is a peninsula so there’s no guesswork here. The state sits between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Gulf State

Florida shares this nickname with Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, which all have shorelines on the Gulf of Mexico.

A Floweret of Facts

People who are from Florida or live in the state are called Floridians. But not even the denizens of the Sunshine State are exempt from having nicknames.

Due to the massive gator population discussed earlier, Floridians have been referred to as “Alligators.”

Going way back to the 1800s, some of the earliest Florida settlers were runaway slaves or fugitives. Those escapees were called “fly-up-the-creeks.”

According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, when authorities would question folks where the runaways might be, they would respond, “Well, I suppose they just flew up the creek.”

The green heron, also known as the mangrove heron, shares the moniker of “fly-up-the-creeks.”

Lastly, there’s the nickname of “Florida Cracker.” There are two competing theories on how this sobriquet came about. One group believes it stems from the sound of cracking whips ranchers used to herd cattle. Others believe it comes from the cracked corn used to make moonshine.

 The Closing of a Flower

So there you have it!

From the man who claimed it to the pioneers who tamed it to the inhabitants soaking it all in, this is how Florida got its name and nicknames associated with it.