The word Christmas comes from the words Cristes maesse, or Christ's Mass. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The association of flowers with the celebration of Christmas is very intense. Particularly, flowers like Poinsettias, Christmas Cactus, Holly, Christmas Rose, Ivy, Mistletoe, etc., symbolize the joy and spirit of Christmas.
Potted poinsettias are popular gifts on the eve of Christmas. Brightly colored, though mostly red, Poinsettias provide effective color as home decor during and after the holiday season. Give a Poinsettia plant as a gift to share the joys of Christmas.
The ancient Aztecs (the Mexican Indians) prized the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity. Centuries later, Mexico's early Christians adopted the Poinsettia as their prized Christmas Eve flower. The Mexican Poinsettias, known as the Christmas Flower in North America are usually bright red. They are used in most Christmas decorations, because of their bright red color and because of them blooming mostly during the Christmas holiday season. For some, these star-shaped bracts symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas Poinsettia flowers have become a symbol of Christmas and are used as festive decorations.
A Mexican legend explains how Poinsettias became associated with Christmas. Apparently, a child who could not afford a gift to offer to Christ on Christmas Eve, picked some weeds from the side of a road. The child was told that a humble gift when given with love would be acceptable in God's eyes. When they were brought inside the church, the weeds bloomed into red and green flowers that the congregation felt that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle!
A Christmas Cactus is a great gift idea for the Christmas eve especially when it is in full bloom. The pendulous stems of Christmas cactus make it a great choice for hanging baskets that they can be a great decor during the festive season. The colors of the cactus blooms are very flamboyant and they come in a wide variety of colors including red, purple, orange, pink, fuschia, cream, etc.
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Christmas Rose is regarded as a true Christmas flower. Christmas Rose (Serissa) is also known as the Snow Rose or Winter Rose. The Christmas Rose blooms during the winter in the mountains of Central Europe.
According to legends the Christmas flower is linked with the birth of Christ and a modest shepherd maiden named Madelon. As Madelon tended her sheep one cold and wintry night, the wise men and other shepherds passed by the snow-covered field with their gifts for the Christ Child. The wise men carried the rich gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense and the shepherds, fruits, honey and doves. Poor Madelon began to weep at the thought of having nothing to offer, not even a simple flower for the Newborn King, as she was very poor indeed. And as she stood there weeping, a passing angel saw her sorrow. The angel bent down and brushed the snow at her feet aside then revealing the most beautiful white flower tipped with pink - the Christmas Rose.
Ivies are seen as a symbol of eternal life and are also used in Christmas decorations. An ivy flower is symbolic of the festival of Christmas in many ways. The Ivy flower represents three facts - it clings; it thrives in the shade; and it is evergreen. Its clinging has made the ivy a traditional symbol of the, albeit now unpopular, image of the helpless female clinging to her man for protection. It also signifies true love, faithfulness, and undying affection - both in marriage and in friendship. Christian symbolists consider the ivy's need to cling to a support emblematic of the frail humanity's need for divine support. Like most of the other Christmas Flowers, ivy flowers symbolize eternity and resurrection. The Ivy flower has been associated with the Egyptian God, Osiris, and the Greco-Roman god, Attis; both of whom were resurrected from the dead.
During Christmas, ivies are used mostly on the outside of the building. They represent immortality, because Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, the giver of everlasting life and the destroyer of death. Greenery can also be brought indoors to freshen the air and brighten the mood during the long, dreary winter.
A mistletoe is a Christmas flower which dates back to the Pagans. Druid priests used this Christmas flower two hundred years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. They revered the flower since the plant, even when devoid of roots, remained green during the cold months of winter. Kissing under the mistletoe is a Christmas tradition followed since ages ago.
There are two types of mistletoes. The mistletoes which are commonly used as a Christmas decoration (Phoradendron flavescens) are native to North America and grow as parasites on trees from New Jersey to Florida. The other type of Mistletoe, Viscum album, is of European origin.
Other Greens for Christmas
Christmas trees and Christmas wreaths made of Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Fraser fir, Noble fir, Scotch pine, White pine and holly are very popular on the eve of Christmas. Christmas seems to be a celebration of the season and nature and not just the religion. The celebration revolves around the greens - leaves, stems, flowers, fruits, etc - of the new season.