National Poinsettia Day: December 12

National Poinsettia Day (by decree of Congress) marks the death (fortuitously just two weeks before Christmas) of Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U. S. ambassador to Mexico, who shipped cuttings of the native Mexican plant to his Greenville, South Carolina greenhouse and propagated the plants and sent them to friends and botanical gardens around the country.

Poinsettias: the December Flower – Myth and Legend, History and Botanical Fact by Christine Anderson and Terry Tischer will help you enjoy National Poinsettia Day.

A Mexican folktale tells how a poor Mexican girl, with no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve services, gathered some plants (poinsettias) into a bouquet on her way to church. She approached the altar with love and reverence and the bouquet turned into brilliant red blossoms. The flowers are known as the Flores de la Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, and bloom each year during the Christmas season.

The Youth Department has two books that tell this story:
The Legend of the Poinsettia retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola and
The Miracle of the First Poinsettia: a Mexican Christmas Story by Joanne Oppenheim