Christmas plants and their meanings

Allotment Diary / Sunday, December 17th, 2017

I’ve always wondered why some plants are connected to Christmas so I’ve done a little bit of Googling and decided to compile of my notes in one place. Pour a mulled wine and give this a good ole scroll.


I’ve always wondered why Poinsettias are connected with Christmas – and we have one in the flat that was red once. I really must try and make it flower one day. Anyway, turns out there’s a story connected to the Poinsettia, which explains it’s connection to Christmas.

Poinsettias also flower during winter periods, so that’s the winter connection established. So the story goes like this…

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said “I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy.”

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’. – Source: Why Christmas


Brussels Sprouts

Are Brussels sprouts a Christmas plant or vegetable? They’re certainly synonymous with the big day and there’s always the cliche about not liking sprouts. (I personally love sprouts, especially on boxing day for bubble and squeak.)

If found this very cool, unofficial story that I would love to read your opinion on. According to Notes From The UK – Druids worshipped the humble Brussels Sprout and so was one of the things that was suppressed when Christianity became the dominant religion – the Brussels Sprout rising again each year.

We could also eat Brussels Sprouts at Christmas because winter is the season in which they come into harvest… That’s most likely the reason in my opinion.


Holly is plant that was used by the Celts as decorations during the winter solstice celebrations. In some Christian traditions, it’s been said that the prickly leaves represent the crown of thorns upon Jesus’s head, with the berries representing the blood of Christ.

However, overall Holly is seen as the symbol of death and rebirth of the Sun as sunlight decreases until after the solstice – and when the days start to get longer.

It’s vibrant red berries and deep greens also sit well with traditional Christmas iconography.


Probably one of the most recognisable traditions out there – a kiss under the Mistletoe. MWAH!

But why do we kiss under the Mistletoe? Well it turns out that Mistletoe related traditions date back as far as the time of Ancient Greece as well as Norse and Druid times. You can explore it’s symbolism through the ages here if you wish. The kiss under the Mistletoe tradition has Norse origins.

Apparently, Norse God Odin’s son Baldur was going to die, according to a prediction. So, his mother Frigg, the goddess of love, went to all the animals and plants of the natural world to secure an oath that they would not harm him.

Sadly, Baldur’s mother failed and didn’t consult with the mistletoe (Rookie error). Loki (Tom Hiddleston) made an arrow out of Mistletoe and saw that it was used to kill the otherwise invincible Baldur.

Frigga was so distraught that her tears turned to white berries, coating the plant and symbolising her love for him.

Frigga was overjoyed by the white berries so she blessed the plant and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it from that day onward. This is why, traditionally, you remove a white berry from the Mistletoe every time you have a kiss.

Christmas Tree (Fir tree)

Saving the best until last! Decorating a fir tree can be seen across many a tradition. Pagans used fir tree branches in their dwellings during the winter months as a way to remind them of the spring to come.

The Romans used Fir Trees to decorate their temples at the festival of Saturnalia. Christians use it as a sign of everlasting life with God.

It’s origin is a little bit sketchy online – however, I did find evidence that suggests the first ever recorded Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510. The website provides a fairly convincing argument.

I love decorating a Christmas tree – in particular the smell of a fir tree really takes me back to my childhood.

So there we have it – traditional Christmas plants and their meanings. Have I missed any out? Leave a comment below if I have and I’ll add it to the list.

Merry Christmas!

5 Replies to “Christmas plants and their meanings”

  1. Brussels sprouts originated in 13th Century Belgium so have little to do with druids (who would have had no idea what they were). They are only associated with Christmas, because it is December when they are harvested in the UK, so it is one of the freshest vegetables you can find.

  2. Great post. Here in Florida, USA, people often plant poinsettias as landscape plants. Sometimes they get as tall as a person. It’s always so fun seeing those first little red leaves starting to emerge in November, turning into a full display of red-on-green right on schedule by late December. The one plant you left out is Christmas cactus – I love how they also bloom right on schedule that time of year.

    1. Hey Craig! Hello all the way from Foggy London Town! I see you’ve been reading my posts so thank you – I’m glad you’re finding them useful. As you can see I’ve been doing some work on my site behind the scenes so I’m hoping to catch up on your blog later today 🙂 . Do Poinsettias turn red even as landscape plants? If so, I’d love to see a picture 🙂 What’s a Christmas cactus?

  3. Hi Adam, I just realized you’d responded to my comment a while back – I guess I neglected to tick the box to get notified of further conments! I’ve got some nice pics of poinsettia as a landscape plant, and Christmas cactus, lemme find them…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *