Curiosity is a funny critter. This idea started like a like a Christmas mouse stirring in the back of my mind. I was gazing at the fake Poinsettia tabletop tree I just purchased and thinking of how the Poinsettia is such a recognizable symbol of Christmas (I think most people would agree on that). It is certainly my favorite, especially because I never could get the hand of watering a Christmas cactus properly or getting one to last and bloom again. My musing over the flower took my little brain to another place. As a writer, I love WORDS – all kinds, sizes and spellings so it was just a skip and a hop to the word “poignant” and noticing that both words began with the letters: P-O-I
From that point, curiosity sent off on a quest for any particular symbolism for the Poinsettia flower. I did not find any references to the flower regarding magical use or from folklore in the books on symbolism I had handy. I did find the Christmas plant grows naturally in Mexico and South America, known there as the flame-leaf flower or lobster plant because of the red coloring. Well, unless it will taste like a lobster tail when dipped in melted butter, in my opinion, that is a rather unflattering name for the lovely plant. The Aztecs considered the Poinsettia as a symbol of purity—I wonder if their blood sacrifices and purification rites might have a relationship to the flower’s symbolism since the points of the red leaves might suggest the flow of spilled blood with a little tweaking of the imagination. The Aztecs also call the Poinsettia the “skin flour” because of the deep red dye made from it, as well as a medicine to reduce fevers.
Still as interesting as that was, my curiosity was just not satisfied as to how the flower could be related to the word with a similar first three letters – poignant. I have to admit that root words from Latin or other languages as they translate into English is not my forte’ so I resorted simply to the dictionary for a meaning, wondering if that might point to the connection my little brain had made. At first look, the meaning of the word appeared completely unrelated to the symbolism . . . then, I looked again . . . Poignant: a. profoundly moving, touching, b. something physically painful. Another source gave the definition as “having the power to affect the feelings or sympathies, such as a love story that ends in tragedy.
Aha, that is the connection! There is a remarkable link between those two words, after all. The favored Christmas flower is featured in the decoration in nearly every holiday special movie lately and so it gives me an idea of its intriguing connection between the two words, but in a very different way than simple symbolism or their root word “poin—“.
It is not important if scholars or biologists connect the two, but I shall through the joining of Christmas themes in stories and movies that always bring a surge of emotion and often a few tears for their message of love, hope and occasionally a tragic experience. If only we could wave a metaphoric wand to set the flame-flower ablaze with our own poignant memories from the past and even present experiences. Would those three letters prove as a root word or rather link word to stir our hearts with thoughts of either love or painful experiences that make life so rich and connect us to each other in extraordinary ways?
Alas, so I shall leave the Poignant Poinsettia to speak its blessed message of love and/or pain, depending upon our soul’s needs of the moment. I think the Poinsettia elicits the most profound emotions, especially during the Christmas season. The golden stamen tops at its center sparks the places in our heart where we can relate to the messages of the Christmas specials (movies and cartoons, alike) for through their poignant messages we remember to have hope for the future and treasure family and friends. No matter the problems, painful events or dark side of poignancy that we must deal with throughout the rest of the year, I think the Poinsettia is nature’s first gift of Christmas (like Santa presents in “The Polar Express”); one more precious than silver or gold. Thee deep crimson leaves magically touch our heart – if we will let them in – burning away sadness and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, purify the old and offer renewal.
So add Poinsettias to your home decoration (unless you already have several in strategic locations, LOL). Assign one to be your “Poignant Poinsettia” and upon its crimson leaves, make your wishes for the New Year, adding a prayer that our brave soldiers be safe and may soon come home to a world restored into the Cosmic Balance of Ma’at (Egyptian neter of harmony).
Merry Christmas to Everyone and a Happy Prosperous New Year!