Thursday, November 5, 2009

They’re Here...

Do you remember when five-year-old Carol Anne Freeling in the movie ‘Poltergeist’ said “They’re here” about the ghosts that were communicating with her via the television?

“Yeah, sure”

You do? Well, that’s nice.


“Okay, so what’s your point? Why are you asking?”

Well the title of this blog post is the same as that famous line and it brought that movie to mind. So I was just curious as to whether anyone remembered it.

“Uhuh. And what does that have to do with today’s post?”

Absolutely nothing. It’s just a random thought. Don’t you have moments like that? When your mind wanders off to something else while you’re working on a post? Then that random thought leaks out of your brain and down to your mouth, and you blurt it out because you just can’t help yourself. Doesn’t that happen to you?


Huh. Alright, then let’s just get to today’s post. Weirdo.

Yes folks, they’re back! I’m not talking about ghosts, I’m talking about Poinsettias; the holiday plants that arrive this time of year and take over the botanical world; the plants you can’t avoid getting a glimpse of because they’re everywhere – greenhouses, florist shops, home improvement centers, supermarkets, convenience stores, big box stores and everywhere else you can imagine. You name it, they’re there. And they’re everywhere because every retailer wants in on the game, a piece of this huge business. So huge in fact that the annual sales of Poinsettias exceed the annual sales of all other potted plants combined. And they do it within a few short weeks, which is pretty darn impressive, if you ask me. No wonder everyone wants in on the action. Hey, don’t be surprised if you find your hairdresser selling these plants on the side.

Photo from SXC


People love or hate these plants, but no matter what the sentiment, there’s no denying that Poinsettias are the most popular of the holiday plants, and one of the most delightful decorations at Christmas. They grace dinner tables, fireplace mantles and tabletops. And they are given and received as gifts by family and friends who gather together to share the season’s celebrations. The holiday season would not be the same without these ornamental plants that have been associated with the holiday season since the 19th century.

And for those of you that don’t like them, there’s a charming, legendary story associated with Poinsettias that may change your mind. Long before (several centuries ago, in fact) Poinsettias became enormously popular, they were the Mexican Christmas flower. And the way they became the country’s Christmas flower is charming.

Here’s how it all started:

Once upon a time...

A young Mexican girl by the name of Pepita wanted more than anything else to present a beautiful gift to the Christ child at Christmas Eve services one year. But being very poor, she had no ‘appropriate’ gift to offer the newborn King. Her cousin Pedro urged her to offer a modest gift rather than an extravagant one.

“Pepita” He assured her. “I am certain that even the most humble gift, when given with a loving heart, is acceptable in His eyes."

Her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy as she walked to the chapel with Pedro who continued to comfort her. In desperation, the little girl knelt and gathered a handful of weeds growing by the roadside. She fashioned them into a small bouquet and continued to walk to the chapel with her cousin. She felt ashamed and saddened as she entered the small village chapel with nothing more to offer baby Jesus than the straggly bunch of weeds in her hand.

Photo from SXC

Pepita fought back tears as she approached the altar with her humbling offer. Pedro’s kind words flowed through her mind “...even the most humble gift, when given with a loving heart, is acceptable in His eyes”. With the encouragement of her cousin’s caring words, she felt her spirit lift as she knelt down to place the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the ‘straggly’ collection of weeds burst into blooms of bright red, star-shaped flowers - the most brilliant and sparkling gift presented that Christmas Eve to the Christ child. All who were present that night were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle. From that day on that ordinary plant came to be known as the Flores de Noche Buena (Flowers of the Holy Night) for it bloomed every year during the Christmas season.

Today the plant with the lovely star-shaped, crimson flowers is known as the Poinsettia and has become a traditional symbol of Christmas.

The end.

Now, isn’t that a lovely story? Doesn’t it make you like Poinsettias a little more? Enough to want to take one home?


Well, whatever the feeling may be towards these festive plants, the holidays just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Incidentally, I prefer a Christmas cactus over a poinsettia anytime. There, I said it.


  1. What a great story! I still don't like Poinsettias though!

  2. That is a lovely story, and I do like Poinsettias, but I believe (don't quote me on this one) that they're toxic to kitties, so they don't grace my house since my cats are dumb enough to try them.

  3. You are so funny, Martha! And by the way, yes indeed, my mind does make strange associations when I'm working on a post, so that my thought progressions can be quite interesting at times. :-)

    I love the story behind poinsettias--it's wonderful. They're not one of my favorites, but they certainly are a bright spot in the home with the drab brown and grey landscape of winter outside.

    I love your posts.

  4. If you believe the local news around Christmas time, poinsettias will poison your pets. Truth is, you'd need a room full of poinsettias to have enough poison to kill your pets. I would worry more about that sap staining my clothes than having Points in the house.

  5. Liza, these plants are loved or hated. I like them but I really do prefer the Christmas cactus.

    Tatiana, when I had cats, I had an assortment of plants around the house. Not because I was trying to hurt my pets but because I really had no idea at the plant about toxic plants. Thankfully, my cats never ate any plants; just dug up the soil and made a holy mess.

    Thanks Beth! It's so nice to see that you can relate to the mind wandering and making strange associations. Ah, someone that understands me.

    I don't think a day goes by that I don't have silly thoughts. I think this is what keeps me constantly happy - and sane :) I could never be too serious. I think that eventually I'd blow up if I were.

    Liza, you're right about needing a room full of poinsettias to be poisonous, but the reputation has stuck and people are reluctant to have them around their pets.