History of the Poinsettia
Poinsettias are one of the most popular plants during the Christmas season. In fact, according to the National Poinsettia Day Society, over 60 million poinsettias are sold in the U.S. each year! But have you ever wondered how this beautiful plant became so closely associated with Christmas? Read on to find out!
Origins of Poinsettias
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Central America, where they have been cultivated for centuries. The Aztecs used poinsettias in ceremonial worship, and they also believed that the red sap from the poinsettia's leaves had curative powers. The plant was introduced to the United States in 1825 by Joel Robert Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico. Poinsett was an amateur botanist, and he brought the plant back with him to South Carolina, where he cultivated it on his plantation.
How Poinsettias Became Associated with Christmas
It is widely believed that Franciscan Friars in Mexico were responsible for introducing poinsettias to Christmas celebrations in the 17th century. According to legend, a young boy named Pepito had no money to buy a gift for the baby Jesus at Christmas Mass, so he gathered some weeds from the side of the road and placed them at the altar. Miraculously, the weeds bloomed into beautiful red flowers. Today, Mexicans refer to poinsettias as " Flores de Noche Buena," or "Flowers of the Holy Night."
Poinsettias are one of the most recognizable symbols of Christmas. But did you ever wonder how this beautiful plant came to be associated with the holiday? It all started with the Aztecs in Mexico, who believed that the red sap from the poinsettia's leaves had curative powers. The plant was later introduced to America by Joel Robert Poinsett, and it eventually made its way into Christmas celebrations thanks to Franciscan Friars in Mexico.