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Word for Wednesday: Poinsettia

Our Word for Wednesday theme for December is Christmas decorations.

decoration is something that is used to beautify a space. The word comes from the Latin ‘decorare’. 

Over December we’ve looked at the words nutcrackerbaublemistletoe, and stocking. Though Christmas might be over, there are still a few days left to enjoy the festive decorations and, with that in mind, our final word of the month is poinsettia

A poinsettia is a small shrub with scarlet petal-like leaves. The star-shaped leaves symbolise the star of Bethlehem and their blood red colour symbolises Christ’s sacrifice.

The story of the poinsettia’s association with Christmas begins in sixteenth-century Mexico where legend has it that a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the church on the celebration of Jesus’s birthday picked some flowering weeds from the roadside instead. She prayed that God would see that, though her gift was not grand, it was given with love and devotion. When she reached the alter, the weeds miraculously transformed into poinsettias.

The poinsettia was named after the American ambassador to Mexico John R. Poinsettia (1778-1851) who was a keen botanist. Today, poinsettias are used as festive decorations all over the world. In America, December 12 marks the anniversary of John R. Poinsettia’s death and is known as National Poinsettia Day.

Have you read our other Christmassy Word for Wednesday posts?

29 Dec 2021
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