“Conversely, the red plant itself burns a brighter red when set off by the green than when it grows among its peers. In the bed I always reserved for poinsettia seedlings, there was little to distinguish one plant from its neighbors. My poinsettia did not turn scarlet until I planted it in new surroundings. Color is not something one has, color is bestowed on one by others.”
― Arthur Japin
Poinsettia Day, a day to celebrate the ever popular red flower used around the Christmas holiday season. When looking at a Poinsettia, all we can think of is “The Poinsettia is to Christmas like a pumpkin is to Halloween” But where is the Poinsettia from, and how did it become a Christmas staple? That’s why we’re here to find out what Poinsettia Day is all about!
History of Poinsettia Day
To find out where the Poinsettia flower originated from, we have to take a look in the past. In 1480 to his death, Aztec King Montezuma adorned his palace with Poinsettia or Cuetlaxochitl as it was known by the Aztecs, having his people cultivate the flower as a gift from the Gods. Poinsettia was served as a reminder of the sacrifice that the Aztec gods had made to create the universe and that the debt would be repaid in human sacrifices. The Aztecs used the Poinsettia’s sap to cure fevers and the leaves make a dye.
Then, in the 17th century after the Conquistadors invaded Mexico, the blood red wild flower became a part of Christian ceremony for the first time when it was used in the nativity procession, the Fiesta of Santa Pesebre. It’s around this time that many legends originated, attempting to explain why the plant, beginning to be called “La flor de Nochebuena,” or Holy Night had acquired its bright and beautiful red color.
After being discovered in 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the poinsettia became a popular specimen among botanists. One Botanist in particular by the name of Wilenow, in 1833 he named the Poinsettia “Euporbia pulcherrima.” But after only four years another botanist by the name of William Hickling Prescott renamed the flower to “Poinsettia pulcherrima” in honor of the man who brought the flower back to be studied, Joel Poinsett.
How To Celebrate Poinsettia Day
To celebrate Poinsettia Day, the Poinsettia is displayed on the Dia de le Virgen, or Virgin’s Day on December 12th in Mexico. In the United States, there are parades that include Poinsettias to commemorate Joel Poinsett’s discovery of the plant in the month of December.