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National Poinsettia Day – Poinsettia Colors, Symbolism, Facts & more!

December is finally here, and with it comes cooler weather, holiday cheer and National Poinsettia Day! Learn more about poinsettias, and ways to celebrate this national day.

Poinsettias are a special part of Christmas. Just like cooking holiday meals, giving presents to loved ones, writing letters to Santa (or even calling Santa’s phone number), and decorating for Christmas, poinsettias symbolize this holiday!

So, grab a cozy blanket, a mug of hot chocolate and get ready to settle in and learn about how poinsettias came to be such a special part of our Christmas season, as well as more information about National Poinsettia Day.

A red poinsettia plant against a grey wooden background with a text overlay that reads "celebrate National Poinsettia Day with poinsettia colors, facts about poinsettias, and poinsettia symbolism".

National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out this national day’s guide for more fun days to celebrate.

What is National Poinsettia Day?

National Poinsettia Day is a day that occurs annually on December 12. This day credits both of the men who made this beautiful plant so popular in the United States.

A potted poinsettia plant next to two presents wrapped in brown paper and tied with a white ribbon next to a Christmas tree to show poinsettia symbolism of Christmas.

In 2002, Congress created this national day to honor Paul Ecke Jr., and the work that he did developing the poinsettia industry through marketing and grafting techniques. He impacted the poinsettia market not only in the United States, but also throughout the world!

The date of National Poinsettia Day is not arbitrary: It is the anniversary of Joel Roberts Poinsett’s death. While working as the first United Sates Minister of Mexico (in 1828), Poinsett saw the beautiful plant growing, and shipped it back to his home in South Carolina. 

Joel Roberts Poinsett is the reason we have poinsettias in the United States, and Paul Ecke Jr. (and his father Paul Ecke Sr.) are the reason poinsettias are so well loved during the holiday season.

Poinsettia colors

When most people think about poinsettias, they think about the beautiful red plants that we see so often during the Christmas season placed on front porches or nestled in next to holiday decor.

Two poinsettia colors, red and white, in a close up photo for National Poinsettia Day.

However, red is just one of the many poinsettia colors you can find! In fact, there are over 100 different varieties of poinsettias.

Poinsettias can found in red, white, pink, orange, salmon, yellow, and green. You can also find marbled and speckled poinsettias, which combine multiple colors.

Facts about poinsettias

Brush up on your knowledge of poinsettias for National Poinsettia Day with these fun facts. Some may surprise you!

Many poinsettia plants arranged to look like a Christmas tree in a large entryway for National Poinsettia Day.

  • The beautiful red part of the poinsettia isn’t actually a flower! What appear to be flower petals are actually leaves (called bracts). They form a circle around a cluster of small yellow flowers on the plant.
  • 80% of the poinsettias sold in the United States come from Ecke Ranch in Encinitas, California.
  • The botanical name for Poinsettias is Euphorbia Pulcherrima, which literally means “the most beautiful Euphorbia”. 
  • In their native environment, poinsettias grow like a shrub and can reach heights of up to 15ft tall.
  • Poinsettias are also called “Flores de la Noche Buena” or “Flowers of the Holy Night”. This comes from the poinsettia story featuring a little girl named Pepita based off a Mexican legend.

Want more plant facts? Check out our post with cranberry facts – this fruit is one of the six main symbols of Thanksgiving and it even has it’s own national day!

Poinsettia symbolism

Christmas and poinsettias are often thought of together, and for good reason. There’s actually a lot of religious symbolism behind the poinsettia.

A Christmas poinsettia plant on a table next to string lights, candy canes and wrapped presents, showing poinsettia symbolism for Christmas.

There is a Mexican legend about a little girl named Pepita who wanted to see the baby Jesus on Christmas eve. She felt embarrassed because she didn’t have any gift to bring for him.

Her cousin told her that any gift she gave with love would be appreciated, and special. As they were walking, she picked some weeds from the side of the road and made them into a bouquet. 

When she walked up to see the baby Jesus, she placed the weeds down as an offering and before everyone’s eyes, they bloomed into beautiful poinsettias. Everyone was convinced they had seen a miracle!

From that night forward, poinsettias were called “Flores de la Noche Buena” or “Flowers of the Holy Night”. 

Are poinsettias religious?

Many people decorate during Christmas with poinsettias, and don’t associate them with religion. However, if you choose to look for religious symbolism in poinsettias, it can definitely be found!

Two clipart pointsettias, on is white and one is red, to show the various poinsettia colors.

The Mexican legend of Pepita and the poinsettias shows that throughout history, poinsettias have symbolized generosity, selflessness and faith.

They also have other religious symbolism. In red poinsettias, the red part of the plant is symbolic of the blood of Christ. In white poinsettias, the white part of plant is symbolic of the purity of Christ.

Poinsettias are not the only plants with religious symbolism. There are three flowers mentioned in the bible: lilies, roses and crocus (a member of the iris family).

Easter lilies and dogwood trees are linked to the resurrection of Jesus Christ and because of this, they are two of the symbols of Easter. Palm branches also hold meaning on Easter.

How to celebrate National Poinsettia Day

Would you like to celebrate National Poinsettia Day in a special way? Try one of these ideas.

A woman's hands touching the leaves of a poinsettia plant.

If you want to learn more about other Christmas plants, make sure to check out our posts on the traditions of Christmas greenery and the history of mistletoe.

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More December 12 national days

Did you enjoy learning about National Poinsettia Day? Well you’re in luck, December 12 is host to more than just one national day! 

Wooden blocks that read December 12 with a pine cone and frosted berries around them.

Here is a complete list of all the December 12 national days:

  • National Poinsettia Day
  • Gingerbread House Day
  • National Ding-a-Ling Day
  • National Ambrosia Day
  • National 12 Hour Fresh Breath Day
  • Festival of Unmentionable Thoughts Day

Since December 12 is also Gingerbread House Day, we suggest celebrating both of these days together!

In this list of gingerbread house ideas there is a house that had a poinsettia cookie decoration on it. If you’re feeling creative, you could try making it.

More Christmas themed national days

If you enjoyed learning about National Poinsettia Day, you’ll be excited to know there are actually several national days of the year dedicated to other Christmas symbols.

A beautifully decorated living room at Christmas time with a Christmas tree, four stockings hung on the mantle, a sled and a wreath on the wall.

National Gingerbread Cookie Day celebrates this delicious Christmas treat. Learn the history of gingerbread, and get our homemade gingerbread cookie recipe!

Celebrate National Christmas Tree Day with this easy alphabet block Christmas tree tutorial. It’s cute, and unlike most Christmas trees, very low maintenance.

If you live in one of the colder states, you’ll enjoy National Earmuff Day. Playing outside in the snow is fun, but only if you’re bundled up!

Falling on December 9, Christmas Card Day is the perfect reminder to send out your Christmas cards for the year. 

To learn more about the national days this month, have a look at this post on the national days in December. 

For puzzle fans, be sure to check out the December word search printable of national days.

Pin this post on National Poinsettia Day for later

Would you like a reminder of this post for National Poinsettia Day? Just pin this image to one of your national days boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.

Want some more Christmas inspiration? You can also watch our Christmas quotes video on YouTube.

A poinsettia plant on a table next to a Santa boot, candy cane, and mug of hot chocolate with a text overlay that reads "Celebrate National Poinsettia Day with poinsettia colors, facts about poinsettias and poinsettia symbolism".

Jess author photoAbout the author

Since graduating from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Jess has been living and working in Los Angeles, CA. She is a freelance writer, specializing in content related to fashion, food and drink and film industry topics. Find out more about Jess here.

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