This post is part of a series: 7 Christmas traditions (1/7)

Poinsettias | 7 Christmas traditions

Christmas is a time of tradition and ritual, such as singing “We wish you a merry Christmas” to the Christmas pudding as it emerges, alight, into the dining room… (OK, so that’s a personal tradition, but I have only just found this out. I thought everyone did this up until last year!)

Every day until Christmas Day, we will explain where and why a Christmas tradition came about. Today, poinsettias!

Poinsettias | Mexico

Potted poinsettia

We see them every year – those big, bright red flowers that look like leaves. Or maybe it’s the other way round (leaves that look like flowers?)… Either way, poinsettias are inextricably linked to Christmas, but why? Well I’m not entirely sure how true this story is, but I am willing to believe it because it is lovely!

Poinsettia growing in India

In 16th century Mexico, it was a tradition to give an offering to the baby Jesus in church every Christmas Eve. One year, a young girl named Pepita had nothing to give as she was so poor. On her way to church, not knowing what to do, she picked a bunch of weeds from the side of the road and attempted to fashion them into a pitiful posy.

Close-up of a poinsettia

Entering the church, Pepita felt so ashamed of her gift, she started to cry, while the other children cruelly laughed at her. She laid her posy of weeds by the baby Jesus and left. The next day the “weeds” had bloomed into huge, joyous, red flowers! It was declared a Christmas miracle, and the weeds were weeds no more!

Poinsettia farm

They were renamed “Flores de Noche Buena” or the “Christmas Eve Flower” and their place in Christmas tradition was cemented.

Photo credits: saturn ♄, J.M.Garg, André Karwath and Kleomarlo

7 Christmas traditions

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Places mentioned in this post

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  • Victoria

    I love receiving thse emails from you, very insightful and useful in many a pub quiz!

    Look forward to them for many months to come.

    Thank you :)

    • http://blog.insureandgo.com InsureandGo

      Thanks, Victoria! We’re really happy you enjoy our posts :) It’s why we write them!

  • Bob

    I always understood that Poinsettias have no flowers nor leaves.The red and green “leaves” are in fact called bracts. Keep the posts coming they are very interesting.

  • Helena Chesters

    Just to let you know that there are also pink and white Poinsettias which possibly match the home decor better. Also it is probably the cheapest pot plant you can possibly buy considering it is still in bloom by about June (thats how long mine have flowered with the right care)

    Anyway your ‘traditions’ are delightful, keep them coming. Thank you

    Helena

  • christine varley

    i love these emails, keep up the good work

  • Renee

    I discovered your blog using google. I must say I am floored by your blog. Keep up the good work.

  • ray curry

    enjoyed 7 christmas traditions well done hnyear