Congress declared Poinsettia Day on December 12 in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett and the poinsettia. Poinsett was the first United States Minister to Mexico. In 1825 he introduced the poinsettia to the U.S.
Now it is a common Christmas decoration across North and Central America, due to the red leaves that bloom near Christmastime. An old Mexican legend tells of a young girl who gathered weeds beside the road to give at Christmas, since she was to poor to get anything else. When she placed them at the front of the church, the ugly weeds sprouted beautiful red flowers, becoming poinsettias.
In addition, some say that the shape of the poinsettia’s bloom symbolizes the star of Bethlehem.
“After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.”