Flowers have long been used to help decorate and celebrate special occasions and festivals, and none more so than the Christmas holidays which will often see homes and public buildings bedecked in decorations. The difference with the flowers that are to be seen at Christmas is that in the majority of countries that celebrate the festival do so in winter, where there are only a restricted number of flowers that bloom at this time of year. This means that the traditional Christmas flowers carry a different look to the flowers that can be seen at celebrations during the rest of the year.
The Tradition Of Giving Flowers At Christmas
The association between flowers and Christmas is one that has been in place for centuries, and the decorative effect of winter flowers is seen in many homes during the Christmas period. There are different flowers that carry a different significance around the world, depending on what is in bloom and available during the Christmas season. In Europe holly and ivy have long been used to decorate homes and churches, while in New Zealand where the summer in full swing, it is the Pohutukawa flower which is associated with Christmas. Similarly with the Poinsettia, the main link with Christmas is the bright red colours which are apparent in most Christmas flowers.
The traditional gifts of flowers and food have been a part of Christmas tradition for centuries, and this is seen today in the sumptuously decorated gourmet Christmas hampers including festive food and decorated by the traditional Christmas flowers. In some parts of the world it is also common for decorative floral displays to be brought to the host of a Christmas dinner.
The traditional Christmas wreath is a circle of green branches or leaves depending on the plants that are available in that part of the world. Holly and evergreens are commonly used in the making of these wreaths, and they will often have winter flowers such as Poinsettia and other small flowers incorporated into the decorative ring. It is then traditional to mount four candles into the wreath, with one candle being lit on each of the four Sundays of the Advent.
One of the sights that is common around Britain during the Advent period leading up to Christmas is a decorative wreath that mounted on the door to welcome guests. These wreaths are generally green, red and white in colour, and will usually incorporate holly, pine cones and other Christmas flowers in their making. The wreath is a symbol that has been associated with Christmas for centuries, and is designed to symbolize the cycle of the seasons, and that spring and summer must follow the winter.
Christmas And Poinsettia
The Poinsettia has been associated with Christmas in Mexico for nearly five centuries, and was a flower that had been used by the Aztecs for many centuries before this. It is now a flower that is often depicted as a part of Christmas celebrations, particularly in North America.
This flower was imported to North America by some of the early explorers who ventured south into Mexico and Central America, and was considered particularly attractive because of its bright red flowers and green foliage. One of the reasons that the flower has become popularly associated with Christmas is that it does require long periods of darkness for the flowers to change colour to red, which is why it assumes such a bold colour in winter.
The Miraculous Mistletoe
One of the most common Christmas flowers that has become a central part of the Christmas season is Mistletoe, and was a plant associated with winter festivals even before Christmas was celebrated. In Europe, Mistletoe has long been associated with fertility, and was a symbol of masculinity. It is currently used to cure cancer.
The berries of this plant are considered to be poisonous, but they are still regularly included in floral displays for the season, and many people still hang a sprig of Mistletoe in their home.