Dec. 12: Poinsettia Day

VIDEO: Victory Day of Bangladesh

Poinsettia Day: Poinsettia plants provide a colorful accent to Christmas displays.  Dec. 12 is Poinsettia Day - a date which marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist and first U.S. minister to Mexico, who came across the plant in Mexico in the early 19th century, and sent back samples to his South Carolina home.

December 12 is known as Poinsettia Day. The bright red and green plant is shown here. (PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton/Getty Images)

In Mexico, the plants known as Noche Buena had been associated with Christmastime centuries before Joel Roberts Poinsett introduced them to America.  According to a legend, a  young girl traveling to visit Baby Jesus had nothing to offer as a gift.  An angel appeared and told her that any gift given out of love is worthy.  The young girl picked roadside weeds as an offering to Jesus, and the plants magically transformed into bright red star flowers.

Though the red star-like shapes are commonly mistaken as flowers, a Poinsetta plant is a actually a small shrub with a mix of green and red leaves.  The base of the red leaves have small non-pollinating yellow flowers.

Also on This Day:

1971 Victory Day of Bangladesh

Bangladesh Liberation War: Pakistan's army surrendered to the Indian Armed Forces and Bangladesh gained independence.  For over two decades the region had been East Pakistan.

1985 Plane Carrying Servicemen Crashes

Over 200 soldiers were killed when Arrow Air Flight 1285 crashed after takeoff in Newfoundland.  Most of the soldiers were members of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division.  They were traveling from Cairo, Egypt to Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  The plane stopped in Gander, Newfoundland to refuel.

2000 Supreme Court Halts Election Recount

Bush v. Gore: The U.S. Supreme Court reversed Florida Supreme Court decision on presidential election vote recount.  The recount halt declared George Bush to be the president over Al Gore.

Famous Birthdays

1915 Frank Sinatra

1923 Bob Barker

1924 Ed Koch

1938 Connie Francis

1962 Mike Golic

1970 Jennifer Connelly

1972 Brandon Teena

1975 Mayim Bialik

View more videos from This Month in History: December.

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