The History of the Christmas Poinsettia
Native to Mexico, poinsettias were named after America's first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, who brought the plants back to his North Carolina plantation in 1828.
Mexicans, who converted to Christianity in the eighteenth century, thought the plants were symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem. Thus the Poinsettia became associated with the Christmas season. Many cultures consider the poinsettia's blood-red leaves to be a symbol of the blood sacrificed for the love of God. The actual flower of the poinsettia is the small, yellow cluster found surrounded by bright, colored leaves often mistaken for petals. Throughout the 1830's, the future Christmas plant's popularity soared across America.
An ancient legend tells of a young brother and sister who had no offering for baby Jesus. In desperation, they picked up some green leafy weeds and brought them into the stable. Embarrassed by their gift, they sheepishly laid the wilting weeds at the feet of the newborn. Suddenly, the weeds that were offered with love transformed into sparkling red blooms that outshone all of the other gifts.
To many, they witness a "miracle" every Christmas as they watch the beautiful, lush green leaves of the poinsettia change to the glorious and brilliant red that represents the spirit of Christmas so well.