There are many plants associated with the Christmas holidays. Most of the plants bought to celebrate the holiday season have little meaning to us other than nostalgia or aesthetic beauty.

Many of the plants used around the holiday season are not just pretty, they have deeper meaning if you look at symbolism from early uses in winter and Christmas celebrations. Some of our holiday plants also are deeply rooted in folk lore, providing rich stories allowing us to connect with other cultures during this season that celebrates peace on Earth and love. I hope you will enjoy learning more of the fact and folklore about these holiday favorites.

This tropical plant from Mexico blooms near Christmas due to a shorter day and longer nights as we approach the winter solstice, making its use at Christmas celebrations practical. The legend of the poinsettia is a beautiful story of giving that many may not have heard.

According to legend, a small Mexican girl and her younger brother were on their way to Christmas Eve church services, but they didn’t have anything to give the Christ child due to their poverty, upsetting the little girl. Her brother told her, “Even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes.” As they walked to church, she gathered some weeds and fashioned them into a bouquet.

Other children laughed at the gift she brought and she was embarrassed and cried. However, as she approached the altar, she remembered the kind words of her brother. When she presented her humble gift of love at the manger, the weeds miraculously blossomed into red flowers. They were called Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night) and they return each year at Christmastime.