Poinsettias are believed to have originated in central and south America and were recorded, described, and revered by the ancient Aztec peoples. This flowering plant eventually became a symbol of Christmas to the Mexican culture and it became a tradition to use poinsettia plants to decorate during Christmas time.
In 1824 the American Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett attended church service on Christmas Eve and was impressed with the bright red flowers used to decorate the church alter. Poinsett took seeds with him when he went back to America and shared the plants with local churches during Christmas celebrations over the next several years.
Because Joel Poinsett was so closely associated with the plant in the United States, people who bought them started calling them Poinsett’s plants or Poinsettias. Today, millions of Poinsettia plants decorate homes throughout the world. The colors of the plant, red to represent the blood shed for human redemption and green representing the promise of new life and rebirth tie in with the religious teachings of Christmas and the preparation of starting a new year.