Poinsettia Christmas Flower Meanings
First things first...the poinsettia isn't really a flower. Nope. Its red tops (thought to be flowers) are actually the leaves of the plant that have changed color. However, as the poinsettia is typically referred to as a flower, I'm rolling with it! :)
At the time of this writing, the Christmas flower season is approaching. And with it, comes an onslaught of brilliant poinsettias. So how did the poinsettia become associated with the Yuletide vibe? A look-see into the plants origins will answer that question. But first, a little background...
Poinsettias are native to Mexico and Guatemala. It was first introduced to the United States by Joel Poinsett. Joel Poinsett was an American linguist, scientist, horticulturist and also a missionary to Mexico. The plant was named after him sometime in the nineteenth century in honor of his missionary work.
As far as symbolism goes, there's plenty. Starting with the Ancient Aztecs. They called the plant Cuitlaxochitl, which means "star flower". The Aztecs have unique flower meanings of their own, and they deemed the poinsettia to symbolize purity. Interestingly, red is also a color of purity in Aztec wisdom. They used the red tops of the poinsettia flower as a dye for skin and clothing - thus marking the bearer as clean, pure and sacred.
The poinsettia is also a symbol for motherhood. An ancient remedy of Mexico prescribed a decoction of the red floral leaves to nursing mothers to increase their milk production. Don't try this at home, folks. Large doses are toxic to both mother and unborn child. Best to leave this remedy out of your holistic toolbox.
Did you know poinsettias can grow up to 15 feet!?! Yep. If you don't believe me, take a look at the poinsettia my BFF has been growing for the last 4 years (below). It's freaking huge! Given a well fed soil, that also drains well, plus the right exposure to both light and dark - you can have a poinsettia 'tree' too! So resist the urge to toss your poinsettia Christmas flower! Keep it, nurture it, and let it show you how expansive it can get!
Avia and the BIG poinsettia!
This brings me to a personal symbolic observation. Because it's often looked at as a disposable plant, the poinsettia is painfully underestimated. I myself am guilty of not knowing just how majestic and gigantic this plant can become when given a little care. Symbolically, this reminds us to never overlook the magic in life - even when it seems insignificant. It's also a reminder to take care of life - you never know what a little love can produce!
So what about the poinsettia and its Christmas flower meaning?
Well, there is a legend in old Mexico about a young boy who wanted to make an offering to his church at Christmastime. He was a poor boy, and had nothing to give. So he knelt outside the church to pray. After a moment of devotion, the boy got up, only to find a beautiful plant at the very spot where he had prayed. The boy took the flower and presented it to the church.
The priests noticed the brilliant red star flowers on the plant, and declared it to be a sign of the Star of Bethlehem. The priests also noted the red of the flower - which they took to represent the blood of Christ shed for the world. The priests and church members were ecstatic with the boy's discovery and offering. So much so, that the flower was named "Flor de la Noche Santa", which means "Flower of the Holy Night." It's also been called "Flor de Noche Buena", which means "Christmas Eve Flower".
I hope this article on poinsettia flower meaning has offered you some insight into this remarkable plant. I further hope you'll give a second thought to keeping your Christmas poinsettia this year. A well kept poinsettia will grow into an impressive tree...and just like the spirit of Christmas, it will be the gift that keeps giving you joy for many years to come.
As always, thanks for reading!
Happy Poinsettia Blessings,
An Important Note About Signs, Symbols and Their Meanings
Signs and symbols cultivate their meanings according to culture, context, passage of time in society as well as mass societal opinion. What's cool and highly important is that signs and symbols earn their most powerful meanings from our own personal perspectives.
This website strives to provide you with the best, time-honored information when defining signs and symbols. However, in the final analysis, "Beauty (and symbolism) is in the eye of the beholder."
Having said that, it's in our best interest to invest the time to do personal research on symbolic events happening to us. This website is just one perspective in an ocean of variety and diversity in the realm of symbolism. So dive in! There is a whole universe of deeper meanings to explore! You can start your research by clicking on the links at the end or to the side of this page. Odds are good I've got a follow-up article about this symbolic topic. ;)
As always, thanks for your willingness to learn more about the language of symbolism. It's a language that is universal and everywhere. It's super-groovy to travel with you on your symbolic path, and maybe offer a little translation along the way. Thanks for reading and exploring!