Welcome to the latest post in the birth flowers series, looking at the flowers assigned to each month of the year. This time we’re looking at the birth flowers for December and their meanings.
For some history on the origins of birth month flowers, take a look at my first post in the series.
We’ve had daffodils and jonquils as birth flowers already, in March, but narcissus is also associated with December. The narcissus family of bulbs includes hundreds of species, with daffodils, jonquils and paperwhites the most well-known. Narcissus symbolizes sweetness, and the idea of wanting the recipient to stay the way they are.
I suspect it’s paperwhites that cause narcissus to feature as a birth flower for December, as these are an early-flowering variety when compared to others that bloom in Spring. Paperwhites will grow happily indoors in a pot or bowl, this makes them a great gift option and you can often find them in flowering bulb gift packs around this time of year. You can also plant paperwhites in your garden for a lovely show of flowers in late Winter when very little else is blooming; I love the way they give you a little taster of the Spring that is just around the corner.
I bet none of us are surprised that holly features this month; it’s so strongly associated with December and Christmas. Holly isn’t actually in flower at this time of year, and obviously it’s the berries that we associate this plant with around Christmas time. Being a rather prickly plant I’m not sure how easily you could give someone a gift of holly, a lovely fresh Christmas wreath is probably the way to go. Holly symbolizes domestic happiness, and also defence, thanks to those prickly leaves.
In pre-Christian times holly was used to celebrate the Winter solstice and new growth, I’ve also come across an interesting tradition from pagan times. Holly was seen as a male plant, with ivy the female counterpart. It was considered unlucky to bring either into a house before Christmas Eve, but apparently whichever was brought into your house after that would tell you whether the man or the woman would rule the house that year. I think I need to find some ivy!
Two very different birth flowers this month; one a shrub which symbolizes Winter and the festive season, and the other a bulb full of the promise of Spring. Do you have either of them in your house at the moment?