Just in time for Christmas, today is National Poinsettia Day! Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they are called La Flor De la Nochebueno (Flower of the Holy Night), and have been used in Christmas celebrations since the 17th century. Legend has it that a young girl, devastated when she realized she didn’t have anything to honor the Baby Jesus during a traditional Christmas Procession, was visited by an angel. The angel assured her that any gift give given with love was an excellent gift. When she lovingly placed weeds around the nativity manger they bloomed into the red stars of a Poinsettia plant.
In 1828 American botanist, physician, and Minister to Mexico Joel Roberts Poinsett sent cuttings of the plant we now know by his name to his home in South Carolina. Since then the plant has become one of the best loved symbols of the winter holidays in North America. Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the United States and Canada, contributing approximately $250 million to the U.S. economy! For years the Poinsettia was farmed by the Ecke family of California who had a secret grafting technique that produced the most beautiful specimens. The Ecke family also worked tirelessly to promote the poinsettia as the perfect holiday plant. In 2002 Congress created National Poinsettia Day by passing a resolution to honor Paul Ecke Jr., choosing December 12th not just for it’s timeliness, but also in remembrance of the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett on December 12, 1851.
Christmas is one of my favorite (official) holidays! I love cuddling up to a fire, dozing in the ambient light of the twinkling Christmas tree, with a cup of hot cocoa nearby. I love Christmas music, and Christmas movies, and Christmas decorations, and Christmas goodies! Every year I vow to shut out all of the dull stresses of this time of year, and to embrace the good will and merriment that marks this season- and though I may not always be one hundred per cent successful, at least I try. Most years I get caught up in the excitement and I go all out with our Christmas decorating. This can include anything from our “Christmas forrest” (nine artificial trees of various size, color, and texture) to loads of tinsel or a hidden misteltoe. But one thing is always a constant — a live poinsettia plant.