Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. ~ Washington Irving
Nothing kindles my heart at Christmastime and the New Year like the poinsettia. La flor de Nochebuena — this beautiful plant native to Mexico — is truly the Christmas Eve flower in our family.
Shades of red, pink, green, cream, crimson, orange and white…it’s always been the starflower of Christmas night. From the time of Franciscan friars 17th Century celebrations to 21st Century churches everywhere, the brilliant star-shaped flowers symbolize the Christmas Star, the Star of Bethlehem…and to me the magi and their Star search.
The flower is named after the first United States Minister to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was also an amateur botanist and introduced this beautiful plant into the United States in 1825.
My favorite is pink. I’m not sure why, except that each color seems to express an aspect of the feeling of Christmas. Red, of course, symbolizes the blood sacrifice – for ancient Aztecs, to the sun, and later to Christians, of crucifixion of the Christ. Pale green poinsettias bring a light freshness of all things new and healing at the New Year. Cream touches on the gentle spirit of the season; and white, its purity. I’ve not seen many orange-toned poinsettias, but they’d express, to me, the wonder of creativity and of new insights and resolutions at this time of year.
I love the brilliant, rich red poinsettia my husband brought home for Christmas. Having the plant on the table for family dinners offers the touch of tradition, beauty and meaning to the annual celebrations.
For many years, along with others in our church congregation, we’d order a couple of huge poinsettias . They’d grace the altar in banks of wondrous pinks and reds until Christmas Eve, and then at that late night service, we’d take them home. There is something special about that tradition, as well, bringing the poinsettias home on Christmas Eve.
Yes, my husband is partial to the deep red flowers. I’ve often wondered why I take to the pink tones. But in recent years, I think I’ve discovered the reason. Pink, rose, fuchsia, ruby represent to me the colors of the heart. The heart of Christmas, which for me, means making the feeling of Christmas last all year long.
Yes, the soft pink tells the story of the magical attribute of Christmas, the beauty of the hospitality of the human heart, which expresses itself most outwardly at Christmastime.
Putting all these colors of the poinsettia together, you have all the harmony of Christmas that you can carry into the New Year. I can nurture my Christmas poinsettia along throughout the coming weeks of winter to remind me.
The starflower’s beautiful blossoms nourish my heart with joy in the midst of wintertime, weaving its magic ith promise of blooms in spring…symbolizing emergence of a new heart within, healing and peace all around us.