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How Did the Traditional Poinsettia Plants to Celebrate Christmas Begin?

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How Did the Traditional Poinsettia Plants to Celebrate Christmas Begin?

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Overview

The poinsettia became part of the American Christmas tradition in the early 20th century after promotion by Californian man Albert Ecke. He grew various plants and flowers. Since he harvested poinsettias in the winter, he thought they would be the perfect holiday plants.

A Christmas Tradition image by "poinsettias" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: striatic (hobvias sudoneighm) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

History

The poinsettia plant has a small, star-shaped flower in the middle. This flower is a symbol of the star of Bethlehem, which led the three wise men to Christ the night of his birth. The resemblance to the star started the Christmas flower tradition in Mexico in the 18th century.

Features

The flower part of the poinsettia is the yellow middle. The red leaves surrounding the flower are sometimes called petals.

How Did the Traditional Poinsettia Plants to Celebrate Christmas Begin? image by "H a p p y C r i s t m a s t o A ll Y o u / F e l i c e s F i e s t a s A T o d o s" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: pasotraspaso (Jesus Solana) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Origins

The poinsettia plant originated in Mexico. The plant was named after Joel Poinsett, America's first Ambassador to Mexico. He brought the poinsettia to America in 1828.

How Did the Traditional Poinsettia Plants to Celebrate Christmas Begin? image by ""Thumbs Up". It's a Boy!" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: Sister72 (Jackie) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Theories/Speculation

It is legend that a small boy in Mexico one Christmas Eve discovered the poinsettia. He was on his way to church, but he had no offering for the manger. An angel suddenly appeared, and she told him to pick weeds for his offering. The weeds grew into what we now know as the poinsettia.

Fun Fact

The botanical name for the pointsettia is Euphorbia pulcherrima. This name was given by a German taxonomist in 1833.

References

  • St. Charles Christmas
  • Wilstar
Keywords: pointsettia, christmas tradition, christmas plant

About this Author

Jacqueline Chinappi has been a freelance writer and editor since June 2007. Her experience includes writing about mental health, psychology, counseling, children, family, languages, and education. Chinappi holds a Master of Arts degree in counseling psychology and an Educational Specialist degree in professional counseling from Seton Hall University.