The ancient Aztecs (ruling tribe in central Mexico at the time of contact with Europe) 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 poinsettia, known as the Christmas Flower in North America, is used in most Christmas decorations, owing to its bright red color and its blooming season coinciding with the Christmas holiday season. However, florist dye them in common colors or even add shimmers to make them much more visually engaging during Christmas.
Christmas cactus, also known as orchid cactus, often blooms around Christmas time. Pendulous stems of Christmas cactus make it a great choice for hanging baskets. There are a number of different cactus species sold as “Christmas cactus.”
One plant called Christmas rose is regarded as a true Christmas flower in certain parts of the world. Christmas rose (Serissa) is also known as the “snow rose” or “winter rose.” Originally from tropical regions of Asia, cultivated Serissa often blooms during the winter. On the occasion of Christmas Eve, it is traditional for young women in North America to exchange specially designed Christmas roses with each other resembling their spirit of fraternity.
Holly is the plant most associated with Christmas in many European countries. Holly wreaths are hung on doors, and sprigs of holly used to trim Christmas puddings.
Like most of the other Christmas flowers, ivy leaves symbolize eternity and resurrection. The ivy leaf has been associated with the Egyptian God, Osiris, and the Greco-Roman god, Attis; both of whom were resurrected from the dead.
Mistletoe is a Christmas plant whose origin is said to date back to the Pagans. Druid priests used this Christmas plant two hundred years before the birth of Christ in their winter celebrations. A more modern tradition is to exchange kisses under a sprig of mistletoe.