View Full Version : Poinsettas and Christmas
11-12-1999, 08:29 AM
My son asked me what poinsettas had to do with Christmas. I looked around but as of yet I havent found anything. So what's th deal? Are poinsettas just convienient because they are red and green. Or, does this have some sort of Pagan root like so many other holiday traditions? Or maybe some monks "accidentaly" cut out the part that said the wise men brought gold, frankinscence, mihr and poinsettas. (Yes I know I probably spelled mihr mir mhirr mirr mer wrong)
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11-12-1999, 09:30 AM
Poinsettias were introduced to this country by a guy named Joel Poinsett who served in Mexico in the late 1820's on a diplomatic mission. I don't know the exact time period when it came to be used in Christmas decorations, but it is a winter-blooming plant which makes it ideal to add color to Christmas decorating. Since the basic colors are green, (traditional from Christmas trees and holly), and red, (a color also found on the Christmas-associated holly), it was a fairly natural choice to be added to the Christmas decorator's repertoire.
11-12-1999, 09:31 AM
From www.howstuffworks.com/christmas.htm (http://www.howstuffworks.com/christmas.htm) :
Poinsettias were attached to Christmas starting in 1828. Joel Roberts Poinsett, then the first mexican ambassador from the United States, imported the plant from Mexico. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, "In warm climates the poinsettia grows outdoors as a winter-flowering leggy shrub about 3 metres (10 feet) high; as a potted plant in northern areas it rarely grows beyond 1 metre. What appear to be petals are actually coloured leaflike bracts that surround a central cluster of tiny yellow flowers. A milky latex in the stems and leaves can be irritating to persons or animals sensitive to it, but the claim that poinsettias are deadly poisonous is greatly exaggerated." ("Poinsettia", Britannica CD. Version 97. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 1997.)Seems fairly incomplete, but I'll see if Panati (Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things) has anything further to say about it when I get a chance.
11-12-1999, 09:47 AM
Hah! If I type fast enough, I'll have gotten to Panati first!
The only thing he really adds is that the Mexicans had already associated this winter-blooming plant with the Star of Bethlehem in the eighteenth century, calling it "flower of the blessed night," so that there would have already been a Chrsitmas association with it when Poinsett came across it.
11-12-1999, 10:25 AM
No rush, Tom. My Extraoridinary Origins book is not readily available by any means at this time. :)
11-12-1999, 08:41 PM
A helpful Gardening Tip from Shirley.
After the bloom falls off and the leaves start to die, stick the pointsetta in a dark cool place until mid fall ( mark your calender) bring it gradually into a light atmosphere and fertilize regularly. After about a month, it will be green again and should be ready for Xmas with watering and fertilizing.
I had one little $2.00 cheapo pointsetta return for five years and now it is very large ( well, it was. It's dead from neglect and in the compost pile now.)
You can do the same with geramiums in the fall. Cut off the buds and leaves, leaving only the sticks. (The leaves just fall off and make a mess.) Store in a dry cool place and ignore them until March. Bring to light, water & Fertilize and when the weather in your area allows, put outside. They come back year after year and get bigger and bigger. My mom has had one for 6 years growing round the clock and it is the size of a bush now. She keeps it indoors. It's really not that much work and saves you a bunch of mula every spring. Greenhouses HATE ME when I share this with other gardeners.
11-12-1999, 09:42 PM
Besides the geranium storage tip, here's one for carrots. Layer sand, carrots, sand,and keep going in a container. Moisten the sand so it's not dry or soaked. Store where it stays cool, and your carrots are fresh when removed. Carrots seed the second year, so plant some out the next year if you don't want to buy seed.
Oh, wait. the topic is poinsettas. Yes they are from mexico, and they bloom in the winter naturaly.
To make them bloom, deprive them of light a couple of months before Christmas. Having your house lights on in the room at night can stop them from changing color, and blooming. The colored leaves are not the flowers. The small yellow and red things at the ends of the brackets are the flowers.
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