December is such a festive month and flowers contribute to the beauty of the year-end holiday season. Just like your birth stone you have a flower for your birth month! The December birth month flowers are the poinsettia, holly, and the narcissus (specifically the paperwhite).
Also called the “Christmas Star”, the poinsettia originated in Mexico and Central America. Dr. Joel Poinsett, a 19th century physician and the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, introduced the flower to the United States after discovering it growing in the wilderness of Mexico. He brought the plant back to his home in South Carolina where it eventually became part of Christmas celebrations.
Its popularity during the holiday season comes from the fact that it is one of the few plants that naturally produces flowers in the winter. One interpretation of the poinsettia’s starlike shape is that it symbolizes the Star of Bethlehem, which was the star that led the three wisemen to the place where Christ was born. One poinsettia legend from Mexico tells the story of a peasant girl who lacked the funds to bring a gift to the church on Holy Night. She picked roadside weeds on the way to the church to make a bouquet offering as a gift for the Christ Child ceremony. When she placed her weeds on the altar they began to bloom into red, star-shaped flowers – poinsettias!
Most people think the poinsettia comes only in red, but they also come in white, yellow, and pink variations. The poinsettia even has its own day. To honor Dr. Poinsett, the U.S. House of Representative established December 12th as National Poinsettia Day!
Holly is a prickly plant that is a mainstay during the Christmas holidays. Often referred to as the “Holy Tree” scholars often mistake the name of the plant as being derived from the word “holy.” Its name actually comes from a European word meaning “prickly” or “to prick.”
Frequently donning mantles and stairwells, this hardy December plant stands out with its green leaves and red berries against the white and gray backdrop of winter months. Christians find symbolism in the holly plant. The sharp leaves symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Christ on the cross with the red berries symbolizing the blood of Christ. The ancient Romans used holly during their annual pagan Festival of Saturnalia (honoring the god of Saturn) that was a weeklong event beginning on December 17th. When the Roman Empire converted to Christianity this festival became an event honoring the birth of Jesus.
Throughout history, holly was thought to have protective qualities. It was hung in the home to ward off witches and evil spirits. Because of these perceived qualities, it was considered taboo to cut down a holly tree and many times their hedges were left untrimmed. In mythology, the holly was associated with Thor and the thunder gods. Holly trees were planted near homes to protect from them from lightning strikes.
Their red berries are semi-toxic which makes them a good deer-resistant plant for yards and gardens. Holly is a low maintenance evergreen that typically does not need an excessive amount of water. You can enjoy the holly plant, that is said to stand for joy and happiness, throughout the year.
The narcissus is the December birth flower that symbolizes faithfulness, purity, and good wishes. The flower is in the same genus as the daffodil, with the paperwhite being the winter-growing variety. Its blooms are delicate and trumpet-like making them appear ever so cheerful. The Chinese name for them translates as “water fairy” because of their gentle appearance. The narcissus begins as a bulb and grows most prominently in Greece and areas around the Mediterranean because of the ideal climate and soil.
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was an attractive hunter who was obsessed with his own good looks. One day while admiring his reflection in a pond, he leaned in to take a closer look at himself and fell in and drown, thus becoming a flower forever. This is where the term “narcissist” comes from and the term symbolizes vanity in Western culture. Even more symbolism comes from the fact that the narcissus is extremely toxic and can cause flowers growing around it to wilt and die.
The narcissus message to your friend or significant other is that you want them to stay just the way they are. It can also symbolize that the recipient is “the only one.” Regardless of the lore, the narcissus (paperwhite) will brighten any floral arrangement!
Petals and Pinot
Want to send your December birthday friend a special gift? What about congratulating a new parent or sending a Christmas gift that can be enjoyed throughout the holidays? Send a floral arrangement with poinsettias, holly or paperwhites. At Petals and Pinot we design your arrangements to order and deliver them with care. Contact us so we can help you celebrate the month of December with a festive flower arrangement!