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Poinsettia: The Story of The Christmas Flower

The poinsettia flower is widely used as a Christmas decoration. Do you know how this Mexican plant became associated with Christmas?

Throughout the world the vibrant red poinsettia plant is synonymous with Christmas. Even if you don’t know the name of the poinsettia plant, you will easily recognize it because of its widespread presence and popularity during the Christmas holiday season.

The poinsettia has become the most widely purchased plant in the USA during the Christmas holiday period. Its popularity is not confined to the USA, but the poinsettia can be found on sale at Christmas time throughout the world, even in southern hemisphere countries where Christmas is celebrated in the summer season. Part of its popularity is attributed to the bright red colour, brightening up a room and adding to the feeling of festivity at Christmas time.

The poinsettia is originally a native plant of Central America, especially of Mexico. It was introduced to USA by Joel Roberts Poinsett, USA’s first ambassador to Mexico. He was impressed by the plant ands sent it back to a botanist friend in Pennsylvania in 1828.

The plants association with Christmas comes from an old sixteenth century Mexican legend. A young Mexican girl, too poor to buy Christmas presents for her family, was guided by an angel to pluck weeds from the roadside and place them on the altar of her village church. Brilliant red or crimson blossoms sprouted from these weeds at the altar and from then on became associated with Christmas. From the seventeenth century Franciscan monks in Mexico began including poinsettia flowers as decorations during their Christmas celebrations.

The poinsettia flower has become so popular in USA that it now has its own day, 12 December being National Poinsettia Day. This Day is earmarked to simply enjoy the beauty of this wonderful Christmas season plant. Its popularity is not recent though. As far back as the early twentieth century seasonal Christmas postcards featured the poinsettia flower.

Whether it is brightening the room of a winter season Christmas in the northern hemisphere or adding to the vibrant summer colours of a southern hemisphere Christmas, the poinsettia is a popular seasonal plant that has a long history that is not necessarily known by all those who enjoy it.

Another Christmas plant you may enjoy reading about:

Pohutukawa, Native Tree of New Zealand

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User Comments
  1. Suni51

    On December 7, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Lovely flowers, nice share. Thanks.

  2. Yovita Siswati

    On December 7, 2010 at 3:37 am

    I love the color of the flower, and now I know the history too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. strovek

    On December 7, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for sharing the touching story about the flower.

  4. Brewed Coffee

    On December 7, 2010 at 4:03 am

    I did not know that story. Thanks for sharing that interesting story. It is a lovely plant. Very bright and festive for the season.

  5. Sharif Ishnin

    On December 7, 2010 at 4:11 am

    I have never seen this plant before but I can see why it is related to Christmas. A very interesting story on how it came into prominence.

  6. Raj the Tora

    On December 7, 2010 at 4:23 am

    a nice timely lesson Val. Advanced Merry Christmas (I guess am the first one to wish you this year :)

  7. Likha

    On December 7, 2010 at 4:37 am

    Thanks for this lovely story. I can use it for my kindergarten kids. We see this flower growing all around now.

  8. Lord Banks

    On December 7, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Very interesting article. I have never seen this flower before in Britain its holly and red berries and mistletoe. Thats whats so good about Triond and the writers you learn something every day. Good one. LB

  9. johnnydod

    On December 7, 2010 at 7:10 am

    Beautiful plant, Beautiful piece Val Have a very happy Christmas

  10. Rask Balavoine

    On December 7, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Thanks for taking me back to my childhood (long ago) in Africa where poinsettia grew wild in the garden.

  11. Starpisces

    On December 7, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I love to see this flower as I love it when Christmas is near.

  12. Guy Hogan

    On December 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

    It is a beautiful flower. I learned a little history today.

  13. martie

    On December 7, 2010 at 10:09 am

    I knew the story, but, loved reading it again. I also love the centuries of tradition this flower represents.

  14. yes me

    On December 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

    An interesting, and informative read this one Val cheers

  15. LoveDoctor

    On December 7, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Poinsettias are lovely flowers which add decor to the entrance of your house especially during the Christmas season. They also look beautiful inside as well. Today, I learned about the history of these flowers. Thank you for your support.

  16. Tiffany J L Alfonso

    On December 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    How interesting! It’s a great thing that a poor girl placed dowdy weed on the altar and it blossomed those flowers we strongly associate with Christmas!

    Have a great Christmas, Val!

  17. Shirley Shuler

    On December 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I love this flower, Val. Thank you for the history of this beautiful flower. I have also bookmarked this.

  18. Jane Campbell

    On December 7, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Poinsettia is a beautiful flower that represents so much. Thanks, Val for sharing this with us.

  19. Juliana

    On December 7, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Interesting article.. some things we just believe.. thanks for research…

  20. Jimmy Shilaho

    On December 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I had never heard this legend before. Thanks for this information, I will pass it to Habakkuk when time is ripe.

  21. albert1jemi

    On December 7, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    great share

  22. overwings

    On December 7, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I might get one these year. In its real size in garden or wild I’ve seen it only in the south.

  23. ladym33

    On December 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    I never knew the origin of the poinsettia flower, thank you so much for sharing this story.

  24. Jessie Will

    On December 7, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    This is very interesting, I didn’t know the background. Thanks!

  25. bigpapadan

    On December 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Talk about a homerun. Very interesting article about this beautiful and festive flower. Thanks.

  26. Anuradha Ramkumar

    On December 7, 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Beautiful flower, I was not aware of this flower. Gr8 to know about it.

  27. HumzaI

    On December 8, 2010 at 2:59 am

    beautiful val!
    thanks for sharing

  28. Michal Dorcak

    On December 8, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I must admit that this is new to me. I have never even heard of this flower. And of course I have never seen it associated with Christmas :)

  29. PR Mace

    On December 8, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Nicely done. I wrote an article about this same subject last year at
    Christmas. I had always wondered how a tropical plant became a winter-time favorite. It is a lovely story.

  30. Suzzy

    On December 8, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    This is great -I love the brightness the red piontsettas create in a home-at Christmas. I love them -a good read. Merry Christmas Val- my sister’s name is Val too.

  31. Agnes Chin

    On December 9, 2010 at 12:55 am

    it’s a lovely red flower and it is also easy to decorate on a cake as well. Now at least I know something about poinsettia and its relation to Christmas.

  32. J M Lennox

    On December 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Very interesting Val. I had no idea it originated in Mexico either.

  33. Christine Ramsay

    On December 10, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I really enjoyed this post Val. I have just bought my poinsettia for Christmas. Last year it lasted for seven months. I wonder if I can beat that this year.


  34. Erin Miller

    On December 14, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for the share!

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