Each year on the 12th of December, people across the United States celebrate one of the most recognizable plants of the holidays on National Poinsettia Day.
In 16th-century Mexico, the connection between the poinsettia plant and the Christmas season begins. According to legend, a girl wanted desperately to celebrate Jesus’s birthday. Worried, the girl feared she would have no gift to offer because she was so poor. An angel tells her to give any gift with love. After gathering weeds from alongside the road, the young girl placed them in the manger. Miraculously the weeds bloomed into beautiful red stars.
The poinsettia initially came to the United States with Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist and the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. In 1825, he sent cuttings home to Charleston, South Carolina.
It wasn’t until the early 1920s when Paul Ecke, a second-generation farmer in California, discovered a grafting technique that caused the seedlings to branch, that the poinsettia started to take root in American culture. Hawking their Christmas flower at a roadside stands, Paul Ecke Jr. later advanced sales of the poinsettia through shipping and marketing.
1 National Day Calendar