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. This flower became part of his holiday season and soon others wanted this red flower
However, it wasn’t until the early 1920s that the poinsettia started taking root in American culture. Paul Ecke, a second-generation farmer in California, discovered a grafting technique that caused the seedlings to branch. Hawking their Christmas flower at a roadside stands, Paul Ecke Jr. later advanced sales of the poinsettia through shipping and marketing.
The poinsettia now comes in a variety of colors.
The US House of Representatives in 2002 created Poinsettia Day to honor the father of the poinsettia industry, Paul Ecke. The date of December 12 marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, the man responsible for bringing the plant to the United States.