December: Flower of the month

December: Flower of the month

The first December birth flower is the Poinsettia which equals celebration, success, reassurance, good cheer and merriment, this December birth flower is a fitting tribute to December’s joyful celebrations.

Also known as the Christmas flower, Mexican flame leaf or Christmas star or Noche Buena, the poinsettia, is a plant known for its striking red displays at Christmas time. Having all of these special names makes this plant seem all the more important and heart warming.

The Poinsettia originated in Mexico before it became popular in American Christmas traditions. Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico and amateur botanist, introduced the Poinsettia to the United States in 1928. The bright red, pink, or white colors of the Poinsettia, which are perceived as the petals of the flower, are really leaves called bracts. The actual flowers are small, yellow clusters of balls in between those brilliant bracts. This plant is sold in pots during the holiday season, yet with special attention, the Poinsettia can grow to enormous sizes. This plant is known as a short day plant because it grows best when the nights are long and the days are short. It was once thought that the Poinsettia is a poisonous threat to pets and small children - this is no longer considered a fact. There is no evidence that the Poinsettia is a hazard. However, eating large amounts of the plant will cause upset in the digestive system. In other words if you sit down and eat all of your poinsettia plants you will be puking.

The Aztec Indians prized poinsettias and considered them a symbol of purity because of their brilliant red color. They made a reddish-purple dye from the colored "flowers", bracts. They also made a medicine against fevers from the latex sap of the plant.

A Mexican legend explains how poinsettias came to be associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift, if given in love, would be acceptable in God's eyes. When brought into the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers and the congregation felt they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.

This is how the Poinsettia became known as Fleur de Bueno Noche in Mexico, or the Flower of the Holy Night. This flower is also referred to as the Nativity Flower because the altar is often decorated in Poinsettias during the holiday season.
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