Did you know that poinsettias are the best selling potted plant in the United States and Canada? December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.
Yesterday a representative of Dole called me to ask to use my photos of watermelons carved like poinsettias in honor of National Poinsettia Day. I’m certainly aware of the popularity of poinsettias for Christmas decorations but, I hadn’t known that there was such a day. So I looked it up.
The Founding of National Poinsettia Day
Turns out that the day was founded in 2002 by the U.S. House of Representatives to honor Paul Ecke Jr. who is known as the father of the poinsettia industry. Now I realize that may mean nothing to you but I found in interesting because the Ecke family is very well known in my area. Only about 5 miles from my home are some of the Ecke poinsettia growing facilities. The local YMCA is the Magdelena Ecke YMCA. And one of the major streets nearby was named Poinsettia in honor of the local growers.
Paul Ecke Jr. discovered a technique that causes seedlings to branch. This technique helped the industry to grow and prosper. Amazingly, the technique remained a secret all the way up until 1990.
Paul Ecke Sr. and Paul Ecke Jr. made it their mission to promote poinsettias and the plant’s association with Christmas. Because of their efforts, most Americans think of Christmas when we see these beautiful red plants.
You can learn to carve Poinsettia watermelons like these with our Poinsettia Carving video lessons.
Now the Poinsettia industry contributes more than $250 million to the U.S. Economy. And that is only at the wholesale level. The dollars are even higher when retail is considered. But what it means to so many of us is that we have a abundant supply of poinsettia available to us with which to decorate our homes during the holidays.
How Did the Poinsettia Plant Get Its Name?
The poinsettia got its name because Joel Roberts Poinsett was the first to bring cuttings of the plant to the US from Mexico in 1828.
Why was December 12th chosen as National Poinsettia Day?
I came across two different answers. I’m not sure which is true. Perhaps they both are. One is that December 12 marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett. The other is that the plant is used in the Mexican Dia de la Virgin which is celebrated on December 12. In Mexico the poinsettia is known as the Flower of the Holy Night or la Flor de la Nochebuena.
Poinsettias have been used in Christmas celebrations in Mexico since the 17th century. Mexican legend tells a story of a young girl who was upset because she did not have a gift with which to honor the baby Jesus during a Christmas procession. She was told by an angel that any gift given with love is a worthy gift. So she collected weeds that she found on the roadside. Those weeds transformed into the beautiful poinsettia flower that the girl gave as her gift.
I didn’t realize there even was a poinsettia day when I carved these watermelons to look like poinsettias. If you are lucky enough to have watermelons available to you in the winter time as those of us in California and Florida are, you might want to try your hand at carving one of these.
Learn how to carve watermelon poinsettias yourself. Yours guests will be amazed and delighted.
Happy Poinsettia Day.