National Poinsettia Day
When is National Poinsettia Day? This holiday is always observed on December 12
On this December 12 holiday, we celebrate a beautiful seasonal flower and John Poinsett who brought them to the United States. Beautiful Poinsettia flowers are a well-recognized symbol of the Christmas season. National Poinsettia Day was officially declared by an Act of Congress. It is in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett, who died on December 12, 1851. Poinsett was the first Ambassador to Mexico He was also a botanist and a physician. Poinsett brought this colorful plant back to his plantation in the U.S. He grew the plants in his Greenville, S.C plantation and gave them out as gifts to friends.
According to Mexican folklore, there is a story of a little poor girl who had nothing to bring to church for Christmas. On her way to church, she picked some plants by the side of the road. As she entered the church, the leaves at the tips of the branches, called bracts, turned into bright, brilliant red flowers. You guessed it… they were Poinsettias.
About Poinsettia Flowers
Originally from Mexico and Central America, Poinsettia plants are by far the most popular flower plants during Christmas. As a matter of fact, they are the largest flowering plant crop in the U.S. with sales of over 63 million pots! Native to the warmer southwestern U.S. climates and Mexico, Poinsettias are susceptible to cold and frost. So, when you bring them home in cold weather, make sure to bring them right home. Don’t leave them in your car and go back to your Christmas shopping.
Purchasing Tip: When selecting plants, choose ones with leaves that are fully in bloom. The long-lasting blooms take a while to produce full color. Once they do, they’ll last for several weeks, usually well beyond Christmas and New Year.
There are over 100 varieties of this plant. These perennial plants actually are a shrub that can grow 10-15 feet in the wild. The traditional red poinsettias plants are by far the most popular. There are several other colors, including pink, white, salmon, yellow, and multi-colored bracts
Did You Know? Poinsettias are sometimes called the “Christmas Plants”. In Chile and Peru, Poinsettias are called the “Crown of the Andes”.
- Poinsettias area also called “Lobster Flower” and Flame-Leaf Flower”.
- German botanist Wilenow gave the poinsettia its botanical name, Euphorbia pulcherrima, which means “very beautiful.”
- They are the highest-selling potted flowering plant.
- During Joel Roberts Poinsett’s day, many botanists considered the plant to be a weed.
- Leaves can measure 6 to 8 inches across.
- The sticky white sap causes skin irritation in some people.
- The Aztecs used the dap to control fevers and the red bracts for making red dye.
- Poinsettias can be “forced” to bloom in future years. See How to Force Poinsettias
How to Celebrate National Poinsettia Day
- Purchase these flowers for your home.
- Give them as gifts to people.
- Learn how to grow poinsettias.
- Decorate with them.
Thought for Today
“Anyone can win, unless there happens to be a second entry.”
History and Origin of National Poinsettia Day
Our research has not yet identified an individual who created this special day, honoring and giving recognition to Joel Robert Poinsett and the beautiful Poinsettia flowers.
This special day was established by an act of the U.S. Congress. Resolution H Res. 471 was voted on and approved by the U.S. Congress on July 22, 2002. In the resolution is stated that “December 12 has been traditionally recognized as National Poinsettia Day for over 150 years”. So, Congress made this longstanding holiday official.
More December 12 Holidays
More About Today
Flower of the Day: Poinsettia, of course!
Recipe of the Day: Homemade Peppermint Bark
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