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Poinsettia
Discover the Christmas custom, story, myth and legend associated with the Poinsettia. This festive tradition and Christmas custom, with its familiar symbol and meaning, has evolved over time. But what is the history, meaning and origin of the Poinsettia? This article provides facts and information about the history of the Poinsettia as a familiar symbol, tradition and custom of our Christmas today.

What is a Poinsettia?
What is a Poinsettia? Definition: A Poinsettia is defined as a
Mexican shrub (Euphorbia pulcherrima) with very large and conspicuous red vermilion bracts below the yellowish flowers. The petal-like bracts are modified leaves located at the junction of the flower stalks and main stem. In November and December the leaves turn vivid shades of red in response to the longer nights. The poinsettia's brilliant seasonal display is actually produced by colored bracts surrounding the real flowers, which appear as an insignificant cluster of yellow berries called "cyathia." The poinsettia is also known by its Spanish name of 'flor de nochebuena' meaning "flower of Christmas Eve". During the 14th - 16th century the sap was used to control fevers and the bracts (modified leaves) were used to make a reddish dye. The poinsettia is the only plant representing a Christmas legend, or, story from the New World.

The Origin and History of the Poinsettia
The Poinsettia plant was introduced to U.S. in 1828 from Mexico by Joel Roberts Poinsett.  Joel Roberts Poinsett originally came from Charleston and then worked as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico. He was appointed to the position by President Andrew Jackson. The Mexicans considered the poinsettia to be the "flower of the blessed night" and represented the star of Bethlehem. The poinsettia was a common decoration used in Nativity processions in Mexico. Joel Poinsett took cuttings from the poinsettia plant and brought them back to his greenhouse in South Carolina. In the early 1900's the poinsettia was marketed in the US by Albert Ecke.

The Legend of the Poinsettia
The legend of the poinsettia tells of a poor Mexican child on her way to church on Christmas Eve wept because she had no gift to place before the altar of the Virgin and Child. Through her tears, an angel suddenly appeared and instructed her to gather weeds from the roadside. When the child offered the weeds at the church altar the starry crimson "blossoms" burst forth from every stem.

Poinsettia Care
Tips and helpful hints in relation to poinsettia care are as follows:

  • Care Tip 1 - Keep the plant in a well-lit, sunny location

  • Care Tip 2 - Ensure the plant is in well-drained soil

  • Care Tip 3 - The cactus plant should be shielded from any drafts and require warmth - 72-75F during the day and 65 F at night

    • Exposure to drafts or a cold temperature will make the poinsettia drop its leaves.

  • Care Tip 4 - The blooms will drop if the plant is kept too dry or over-watered. Water the Poinsettia plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch

  • Care Tip 5 - Plant Food - Fertilize the poinsettia if you keep it past the holiday season

  • Care Tip 6 - Poinsettia plants can be moved outdoors in the summer if the temperature is above 60

  • Care Tip 7 - Coloring of the bracts and flowering is induced by shortening  the amount of time the palntis exposed to light. From late September to December 1, the plant should be kept in total darkness between 5pm and 8am.

Poinsettia
Christmas is celebrated worldwide, throughout the Christian population of approximately 2275 million people, but is also celebrated by many non-Christians as a secular, cultural festival. Customs and traditions are symbolized by familiar symbols and icons, such as the Poinsettia,  have come to represent the spirit and meaning of this special time of the year.

Poinsettia
 

Poinsettia

  • Poinsettia
  • The history, meaning and origin of this familiar symbol
  • Old Customs, Symbols and Traditions - Poinsettia
  • Meaning and origin of this traditional Christmas custom
  • History, Facts and information about customs, symbols and traditions - Poinsettia
  • Meaning, history and origin of traditional symbols - Poinsettia
  • Poinsettia

Poinsettia

"Merry Christmas, have a happy and prosperous New Year!"

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