In a lot of ways, Americans are looking to recover their traditions in recent years. As we blossom into a fully modern society, it’s also great to rediscover some of our roots. The holidays are the perfect time to celebrate these nearly lost traditions.
We’ve put together a guide to the flowers and plants which have been associated with winter holidays for centuries. These symbolic plants can be used to create an extra special Christmas floral arrangement this year.
There are so many great varieties of flowers which can be used to make unique arrangements and centerpieces for Christmas time. Why not add a few traditional blossoms which add special meaning.
This plant with bright red flowers which bloom in the winter is native to Central America. It has become practically synonymous with Christmas, but most people don’t know why. The history of the Poinsettia goes far back into history. For the Aztecs, it was a valuable symbol of purity. Then, centuries later, Mexican Christians took on the Poinsettia as their Christmas flower. As legend went, a little girl who could not afford a Christmas gift for Jesus saw an angel which encouraged her to pick some weeds instead. When she brought them to the church, however, the weeds bloomed with beautiful red flowers. Her humble offering became a miracle in the eyes of her congregation. This is how the Poinsettia became a classic Christmas Eve gift, to share the season’s joy and brighten the home in the winter.
This Christmas classic is rooted in the Nordic cultures where it was considered a symbol of rebirth, despite the fact that the berries are poisonous. The pagan Celts considered mistletoe a sacred plant because it stays green during the cold months even without roots. Long before Christianity, Druid priests would use mistletoe flowers in their winter rituals. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe has been traced back to Scandinavian superstitions. Today, this evergreen can be used to make your festive arrangements even more meaningful.
Also known as the Snow Rose or Winter Rose, this Christmas flower is also a winter bloomer. The Christmas Rose has also been linked to Christian holiday stories through an ancient legend. The story says that a poor shepherd maiden named Madelon encountered the three Magi as they traveled to welcome newborn Jesus. On this cold winter night, the wise men carried valuable gifts for the baby and she was struck by sorrow knowing that she had nothing to give. As her tears fell to the ground, an angel brushed aside the snow, uncovering a delicate white flower with pink tips. This was the perfect gift for the infant king and became known as the Christmas Rose.
A German tale tells of a peasant family who welcomed a beggar into their home on a cold Christmas Eve. In the morning, the man was gone, and in his place were two white Chrysanthemums. This flower continues to be a symbol of optimism and joy. Plus, it looks great in any holiday bouquet or centerpiece.
Holiday Greenery & More
Along with certain flowers, there are a handful of other plants which have special meaning at Christmas. Just think about the lyrics in classic holiday songs and carols!
These festive boughs are also connected to Druid rituals. They used to wear crowns of holly and hang it in doorways, hoping that the pointy leaves would keep evil spirits away. The plant was a pagan symbol for male fertility, while ivy was its female counterpart. Then, once appropriate by Christianity, the prickly leaves of holly became a symbol for Jesus’ crown of thorns.
The holly plant has pretty red berries which stand out in a winter landscape. Instead of decking your halls with holly, why not decorate your planter or candle holders with this holiday classic?
The deep green leaves on an ivy vine have long been an emblem of eternal life and resurrection. In fact, the ivy flower has been connected to Egyptian and Greco-Roman gods which resurrected from the dead. The significance of eternity and rebirth can add an extra layer of meaning to your Christmas wreath or floral decorations.
This aromatic herb tastes great, of course, in holiday recipes, but it can also add an extra touch to festive decorations. Dating back to the 16th century Europe, rosemary has been used for Christmas displays. Standing for fidelity and remembrance, and having a strong association with Mary, Christians have traditionally used rosemary sprigs to decorate holiday banquets. Rosemary can give texture and depth to your festive arrangement and as a fresh perfume for your home this season.
“On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, A partridge in a pear tree…” As the carol suggests, pears are also featured in traditional holiday decorations. This fruit is a historical symbol for Mary and the newborn Christ. For that reason, decorative or real pears can be used as a unique touch in your Christmas centerpieces.
Learn more about holiday decorating: Make Your Christmas Tree Fabulous with Ribbon & Bows.
Merry Christmas from Dietz Floral Studio
Bring your friends and family members for a festive hands-on floral experience workshop. Let Dietz Floral Studio teach you how to make holiday flower arrangements and craft items to decorate your home this year. Check out our calendar of upcoming workshop events going on all year.