Friday, 12 December 2008

12 December - Poinsettia, the Christmas plant

Today, 12 December, in the US, it is Poinsettia Day. The Poinsettia, with its distinctive red and green leaves, is a staple among Christmas decorations around the home these days, but how did this practice start?

The plant was know to the Aztecs, and in Nahuatl it is called cuitlaxochitl meaning 'star flower'. In Chile and Peru, in time the plant came to be known as the 'Crown of the Andes'. But it's association with Christmas goes back to 16th century Mexico. There it was called the 'Flower of the Holy Night', and from the 17th century, Franciscan monks included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.

The plant was brought to America by Dr Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first American ambassador to Mexico, and it was renamed in his honour - hence Poinsettia.

Did you know...?
The town of Encinitas in California is known as the Poinsettia capital of the world because of the profusion of plants found there.

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