The poinsettia is a culturally and commercially important plant species of the diverse spurge family that is indigenous to Mexico and Central America. It is particularly well known for its red and green foliage and is widely used in Christmas floral displays.
The poinsettia derives its common English name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the United States in 1825. The Poinsettia Day in 1852, initiated by the U.S. Congress, commemorates his death on December 12, 1851.
The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson “blossoms” sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.
From the 17th Century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus. (from Wikipedia and www.cute-calendar.com)