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The history of poinsettias and Christmas

Melissa is the assignment editor and contributing writer for SheKnows Home and Living. While other little girls were playing dress up with Barbie, Melissa was busy remodeling Barbie's house. She now lives out her dream covering design an...

You see the classic red leaves every year, but only during the holiday season. Have you ever wondered how poinsettias became associated with Christmas?

You see the classic red star-shaped leaves every year, but only during the holiday season. Have you ever wondered how poinsettias became associated with Christmas? 


You see the classic red star-shaped leaves every year, but only during the holiday season. Have you ever wondered how poinsettias became associated with Christmas? 

We might see poinsettias everywhere from the supermarket to classic holiday decor, but how did this native Mexican plant become such a popular Christmas staple in the United States?

According to an old Mexican folk story, a young girl could not afford a gift to bring to church as an offering to baby Jesus. She was greatly disappointed by this and instead decided to pick some weeds that were growing along the road as she walked to the chapel and made a small bouquet out of them.

When the girl placed the weeds at the alter, they sprouted bright red blooms and turned into the plants we know as poinsettias. The parishioners believed it to be a miracle.

In Mexico, Franciscan friars began including poinsettias in their Christmas celebrations as early as the 17th century.

Poinsettias first arrived in the US in the 19th century. They were introduced in the 1820s by the first US Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, who the plant is named after. Slowly the tradition of incorporating them into Christmas celebrations caught on and it's now a classic holiday symbol.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, poinsettias are also known as the Christmas Flower, Star of Bethlehem,  and Flores de Noche Buena (Spanish for "flowers of the holy night").

Do you have poinsettias around the house during the holidays?

Read about how to keep poinsettias thriving year-round. >>>
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