Poinsettia Day takes place every year on 12th December. These attractive flowers have been recognized as being a symbol of the Christmas period and Poinsettia Day was actually pronounced by a Congressional Act in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett ten years ago, back in 2002.
Poinsett was the very first Ambassador to Mexico, as well as being a botanist and physician, and he brought the plant to his plantation in the United States. He grew poinsettias on his plantation in Greenville in South Carolina and gave them out as presents to his friends. Poinsett died on 12th December 1851.
Mexican folklore tells the story of a poor young girl who has nothing to take to church at Christmas; however, while on her way to the church, she picks some plants from the side of the road. By the time she enters the church, the ends of the leaves of the plants have transformed into brilliant, bright red flowers – in other words, the poinsettia.
Botanically, the name of the plant is Euphorbia pulcherrima. Many people are surprised to learn that poinsettias contribute as much as $250 million to the economy of the United States every year. The poinsettia industry was able to flourish in the United States because of a technique of Poinsett’s that caused seedlings to branch. This technique remained a mystery until the 1990s, when it was discovered and published by a university researcher.