As bright thoughts flash through dull grief-laden day,
The red poinsettia raise its flag of hope!”
Emily Bulcock, 1923
Pointsettia are synomymous with Christmas, and if you’re born in December the Poinsettia is your birth flower. Poinsettias, or "christmas stars" originate from Mexico & Central America. With their rich red colouring, they were prized by aztecs as a burst of colour in the cooler months, and were used as a red dye.
Their name is derived from the man who brought them from mexico to north america, one Dr Poinsett, who apart from having a love of colourful plants, was also a physician, politician and us ambassador to mexico. It's believed that during his time there, in the 1820s, he came across the red flowering plant & sent cuttings of it back home to fellow botanists. It became known as the poinsettia, and was eagerly embraced as a christmas flower because it is one of the few plants that naturally flower in winter.
Brightly coloured and mostly red, a Poinsettia provides effective colour in home decor during and after the holiday season. The bright petals of Poinsettias, which look like flowers, are actually the bunch of upper leaves of the plant, called bracts. Poinsettia flowers are small, green or yellow, and grow inconspicuously in the centre of each leaf bunch. Poinsettias also bloom in cream, lemon, peach and pink colours.
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 that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle.
In the traditional language of flowers, a gift of poinsettias would convey respect, faithfulness & good cheer. As a birth flower, it represents the traits that December born people supposedly display: generosity, humour, cheerfulness.
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For me, February is truly the month of new beginnings. In January, we are settling into the year after the post-Christmas rush, and trying (really hard!) to stick to those new year resolutions. Then February comes around and we feel we can really get kick started with the year ahead. For those of you luckily enough to be born in this wonderful month, as the spring flowers begin to bloom, your birth flower is the violet.
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