Let’s begin with the history behind it. This flower, also known as ‘Taxco del Alarcon’ and ‘Flor de la Noche Buena,’ is native to Taxco, Mexico. The second name is significant since it was given to the plant because it reminds the star of Bethlehem. So here is it – the first hint that this flower is associated with Christmas somehow. There’s even the legend of poinsettia about a poor girl named Pepita. She didn’t have a present for baby Jesus, so she decided to give him a bouquet of weeds. The angels sympathized with her and transformed it into a gorgeous red flower.
In the 17th century in Mexico, Franciscan monks included this plant in the Christmas celebrations. Poinsettia’s meaning in Christian symbolism is clear – red represents Jesus’ blood, his sacrifice. Those monks from the 17th century were the first who associated this plant with Christmas and used it as one of the cheap Christmas decorations. In Europe and northern America, Poinsettia became popular thanks to Joel Robert Poinsett. As you might have noticed, the plant was then named after him. He was the first American ambassador to Mexico, who was also interested in plants. So when he found what was then named poinsettia, he sent it to Greenville, South Carolina, where he had his greenhouses. Poinsett started to send these flowers to his friends, and then they were sold. There’s the reason why this flower is so popular during the Christmas holidays. First of all, festive colors – red and green- are connected to Christmas. Secondly, and even more importantly, poinsettia blooms in winter, making it a perfect plant for this holiday.