National Poinsettia Day


By Vickie Rhodehamel

Arcanum News

It’s Christmas time, and what do you see everywhere but sprigs of holly and bright, twinkling lights, and colorful poinsettias. These lovely, breathtaking flowers are common during the holiday season. Dec. 12 is known as National Poinsettia Day. However, do you know why? The poinsettia has a deep cultural and symbolic meaning; where did they come from?

When did they become popular?

The common name “poinsettia” was first used in the early 1800s, with the name derived from that of Joel Roberts Poinsett, a botanist and the first U.S. Minister to Mexico. This man sent poinsettias from Mexico back to greenhouses that he owned in South Carolina. Before it’s renaming as the poinsettia, the plant was known as the “painted leaf” or the “Mexican flame flower.” Its scientific name is Euphorbia pulcherrima.

There is also a Mexican legend that a girl named Maria was too poor to be able to offer a gift for the holidays. She was told by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside instead. When she placed the weeds by the church altar, crimson blossoms sprouted and later turned into poinsettias. From that point on, Franciscan friars began to use the plant sun holiday celebrations, as the star pattern of the leaves could symbolize the Star of Bethlehem while the red color symbolizes the sacrifice of the crucifixion.

Typically found in shades of red, this plant can also be grown to produce green, white, and pink blooms, too (and due to the imaginations of florists, many other colors are created using the white blooms and spray paint). Regardless of the color, poinsettia flowers possess similar meanings. For the most part, these flowers symbolize success, good cheer, and even purity (although this latter meaning is no longer quite as common).

Interestingly, the Aztecs were the first people to cultivate poinsettias. In the United States, cultivation of these plants did not begin until Joel Poinsett sent plants home to South Carolina. The Aztecs originally used poinsettias to produce dyes and also as antipyretic medications. The plant, in the ancient language of the Aztecs known as Nahuatl, is known as Cuetlaxochitl, which means “flower that grows in residues or soil.”

In Mexico, the poinsettia is prized as the Christmas Eve flower, while in Peru and Chile, it is known as the Crown of the Andes. In Spain, the poinsettia is a traditional Easter flower. In Italy, it is called the Star of Bethlehem flower plant. It is also known as the Santa Claus flower in


Pronunciation of the word, is it Poin-set-ah or Poin-set-ee-ah? But which one is technically correct?

One professor says they both could be slightly off. “My guess is that it was closer to what a British pronunciation of the word would be, and that’s ‘poin-set-ya,’” says Vincent Pecora, chairman of the English Department at the University of Utah.

Pecora says the word was coined in the early 19th century by a botanist named Poinsett. An “ia” was added to name the plant, so it’s safe to assume the “I” is supposed to have a sound. The professor says the two different pronunciations probably came from regionalization. He says his friends in New York add the long “e”, but people in the south leave it out. “If you say it like ‘poinset-ya,’ you could see how, perhaps, some people took that to mean ‘poin-set-ah’ and other people turned it into ‘poin-set-ee-ah,’ ” Pecora says. He says it’s not uncommon for us to say something wrong so often that the wrong word can feel like the right one. For the final say, let’s consult the dictionary. It says both pronunciations are acceptable. So, the dictionary is no help.

Many thanks to John and Jolene Hangen for their donation of the town Christmas tree. The large tree on the corner across from Troutwine Auto Sales was given to the village from their yard. Thank you for beautifying our village this year with your donation!

Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, all Ohio schools are now required to follow up with graduates to learn about their post high school path. Arcanum High School Class of 2022 graduates…please help us collect this information by completing this form no later than Feb. 1, 2023. Please complete this as it will take you less than five minutes to complete. As an extra incentive, the first 50 Arcanum graduates to complete and submit the survey will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Amazon gift card. Here’s the link on the school website to complete the survey:

Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning Worship Service info needed for churches in the Arcanum and FM School districts. I would like to include in my column your churches’ service information. Please send me an email with your service times and or other information (special music, candle lighting, live nativity, etc.). My email is [email protected]. Please submit by Thursday, Dec. 15 to be in the Tuesday, Dec. 20 edition of the “Arcanum News” of the Advocate. Thanks in advance!

No posts to display