Alternatively known as the Flame Leaf or the Flower of the Holy Night, poinsettias are popular adornments in churches, homes and offices all through the Christmas season. The star-shaped leaves of the flowering plant are symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem and the color red represents the blood sacrifice through Jesus’ crucifixion.
Legend has it that the poinsettia is a virtual Christmas miracle. Two poor children from a village in Mexico were distressed as they could afford no offering to baby Jesus. So, they plucked some weeds to make a soft bed for the Lord. While decorating the manger, the two were mocked and teased, when suddenly, the weeds burst into bright, star-like petals, thus proving that love was the most precious of gifts.
Indigenous to Mexico and Central America, the poinsettia was included in Christmas decorations by the Mexican Franciscan friars from the seventeenth century. It was first brought to America by Dr Joel Poinsett, whom it is christened after.
Today, poinsettias are ubiquitous throughout the world during Christmas. Although traditionally red, the star-shaped leaves are now available in pink, white and yellow. Multipurpose embellishments, they double up as centerpieces, desk or wall decorations. This very versatility makes poinsettias the perfect holiday gift, and with proper care, they can last long beyond the Christmas season to brighten up your living or work spaces all year long.