The Christmas Poinsettia


There is no flower that says Christmas more than the poinsettia – with its vivid, red leaves that have been said to symbolize the Star of David. Just how did it become known as the Christmas flower?

There is a legend about the poinsettia and according to, the tale is about a poor Mexican girl named Pepita, who had no present to give the baby Jesus at a Christmas Eve service. As she sadly walked to the chapel, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up. “Pepita,” he said to her, “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him, will make Jesus happy.” So, she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a tiny bouquet, remembering her cousin’s words. Pepita knelt down at the altar and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them was sure they had witnessed a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night.

I always decorate my home with colorful poinsettias at Christmas and would use them to brighten up my cubicle when I worked at the Social Security office on the north end of Flint. My co-worker, Suzanne, and I had placed a very large and beautiful poinsettia flower on a table between our desks. We would take turns watering it and enjoyed its beauty throughout the holiday season, vowing we would toss it out after New Year’s Day, or when its leaves began to droop.

But our poinsettia didn’t droop or turn brown – it just got bigger and bigger, flourishing in the office light. It remained there throughout the entire winter, bringing a little color to the drab, cold days. When spring came, our poinsettia was still growing! (I thought it might have been due to the fact that I watered it with my leftover coffee.)

Our clients started to question why the Christmas plant was still there, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to dispose of it. Suzanne and I began decorating it for each holiday, draping it with four-leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, miniature flags on Memorial Day, and little beach towels and sand toys on the Fourth of July. I can’t remember when we finally said goodbye to that poinsettia, but it certainly had became a conversation piece and brought a little humor to our busy workdays.

I like to think about it this way: Christmas is the time of year for spreading joy and love and there is peace on earth and good will to all. We were lucky that year. The flower that symbolizes Christmas and its meaning stayed with us throughout the year. It is my Christmas wish that the miracle of the poinsettia will remain with each and everyone of us in the upcoming year!


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