National Poinsettia Day Date in the current year: December 12, 2024

National Poinsettia Day National Poinsettia Day, sometimes referred to as simply Poinsettia Day, is observed annually on December 12. It celebrates one of the most recognizable plants associated with the winter holiday season.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) is a flowering plant that belongs to the large and diverse family Euphorbiaceae. Known for their red and green foliage and the star-shape leaf pattern that resembles the Star of Bethlehem, poinsettias are widely associated with the Christmas holidays, especially in the Americas.

Wild poinsettias are native to southern North America and Central America; they are found from Mexico to southern Guatemala. Aztecs cultivated the poinsettia, which they called cuetlaxochitl, as a medicinal plant and a source of red dye. In modern Guatemala and Mexico, the poinsettia is called flor de Nochebuena (Christmas Eve flower) or flor de Navidad (Christmas flower) due to its association with Christmas, which dates back to the 16th century.

The poinsettia made its way to the United States thanks to American diplomat, physician and amateur botanist Joel Roberts Poinset. He encountered the plant while serving as the first United States Minister to Mexico and sent some samples to his greenhouse back home in South Carolina. By 1836, “poinsettia” became the common name of the plant in the United States.

The poinsettia became a popular Christmas plant in North America thanks to the Ecke family. German immigrant Albert Ecke began cultivating poinsettias in 1909. In the 1960s, his grandson Paul Ecke Jr. sent free poinsettia plants to television networks from Thanksgiving to Christmas as a marketing stunt, which resulted in poinsettias becoming popular as Christmas decorations.

A resolution creating Poinsettia Day was passed by the House of Representatives in 2002, but it has never been signed into law. The holiday was established to honor Paul Ecke Jr., who is widely regarded as the father of the North American poinsettia industry. He heavily expanded the poinsettia business he had inherited from his father and transformed it into the largest poinsettia producer in the world.

The date of Poinsettia Day, December 12, marks the death anniversary of Joel Roberts Poinsett to highlight his contribution to introducing the poinsettia to the United States. It also coincides with the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is widely celebrated throughout the flower’s home country of Mexico; it is a common tradition in Mexico to decorate shrines dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe with poinsettia flowers.

The best way to celebrate National Poinsettia Day is to check out your local florist or greenhouse, buy several poinsettia plants, and use them to decorate your home for Christmas. You also can buy someone a poinsettia plant as a gift and spread the word about the holiday on social media using the hashtags #PoinsettiaDay and #NationalPoinsettiaDay.

National Poinsettia Day isn’t the only holiday meant to help us get into the festive spirit that is celebrated on December 12. It coincides with Gingerbread Decorating Day and Gingerbread House Day, two unofficial holidays celebrating delicious treats associated with Christmastime.

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National Poinsettia Day, Poinsettia Day, unofficial holidays, Christmas plants, Joel Roberts Poinsett, Paul Ecke Jr.