In this guide, I’ll take you through everything you need to know about December’s Official Birth Month Flowers – the Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly. Learn about their meaning and symbolism in the language of flowers and their cultural significance today.
- December Birth Month Flowers: The Narcissus (Paperwhites)
- December Birth Month Flowers: The Poinsettia
- December Birth Month Flowers: The Holly
- Other Popular In-Season Flowers in December
- Why Are There Three Birth Month Flowers in December?
- What are the Origins of December Birth Month Flowers?
- The Official Birth Month Flower Calendar:
- December Birth Month Flowers FAQs:
December Birth Month Flowers: The Narcissus (Paperwhites)
One of the official December birthday flowers is the narcissus. Narcissus is a large genus of flowering plants. It’s often confused with daffodils or the March birthday flower since they are also part of the Narcissus genus of the Amaryllis family.
Most narcissus species are spring bloomers. However, a few types showcase their cheerful blooms in the winter, like the paperwhite narcissus.
History and Origins of Narcissus Flowers
Narcissus plants are native to the Mediterranean. They are naturalized in many parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America. Of many plants in the genus, paperwhite narcissus or paperwhites are the oldest and most widely distributed. They produce clusters of delicate and sweetly fragrant blooms. The flowers can be white, yellow, or orange.
According to Greek mythology, the name of this flower originated from a beautiful young man named Narcissus. He became too fixated with his looks and received punishment from Nemesis. Consequently, he fell in love with his reflection in the water and ended up drowning.
Narcissus Flower Meaning and Symbolism
This December birth flower commonly represents purity, sweetness, and simplicity. The narcissus flowers are also often associated with respect and faithfulness. Yet their symbolism and meanings have varied since they are widely prevalent in many cultures.
For instance, narcissus flowers signify prosperity and wealth in China. But for Victorians, these blooms are representations of self-centeredness and could mean a chance for change.
Narcissus Flowers by Colors
Narcissus are commonly white or yellow, but other varieties give orange or pink blooms. As with other flowers, their meanings vary by color.
White narcissus flowers are a known symbol of innocence and purity, like most white flowers. For that reason, these blooms make a great flower gift for friends and family. It also suits the perfect flower for welcoming the birth of a newborn.
Another common color of narcissus flowers is yellow. Yellow narcissus, as bright and cheery as the sun, symbolizes positive energy, joy, and happiness. This type of narcissus is ideal for a vibrant friend or loved one or as a pick-me-upper flower gift for anyone special in your life.
Orange narcissus, on the other hand, represents positivity and friendship. Give a bouquet of these blooms to a friend and tell them you value your friendship or to someone you’d like to wish good luck. Because of their association with positivity, orange narcissus flowers are your best bet as a gift for those making a new big step in their career or personal life, like a new job, promotion, or new house.
December Birth Month Flowers: The Poinsettia
While poinsettias are more commonly associated with Christmas, they are also considered birth flowers for December. Poinsettias are also called Christmas Stars and Christmas Flowers because of the shape and color of the “flowers,” which are technically bracts. The flower is named after American diplomat and physician Joel Roberts Poinsett, who took a vital role in bringing the plants from Mexico to North America.
The Aztecs considered these flowers as a symbol of purity. Today, the vibrant poinsettia flowers signify success, good cheer, and celebration. Moreover, they are the national flower of Trinidad and Tobago and the floral emblem of Madagascar.
December Birth Month Flowers: The Holly
Holly is the other birthday flower for December. It’s also often associated with the Yuletide Season because its cheerful appearance exudes vibrant red and green hues. For that reason alone, hollies, especially the English or European hollies, are frequently requested for seasonal decorations.
Note, however, that hollies have prickly, sharp leaves, so take extra caution when handling them. That characteristic alone makes hollies a symbol of combativeness, pain, and trickery. They also mean aggression and defensiveness. On a positive note, however, hollies are also associated with happiness and optimism.
In Christianity, the berries of hollies are believed to be white but stained red by the blood of Christ. The spiky leaves, on the other hand, are a representation of the crown of thorns.
Other Popular In-Season Flowers in December
Flower choices in December aren’t limited to the official birth month flowers. If you prefer other kinds of blossoms, there are many alternatives out there that bloom as beautifully as the December birth month flowers. Here are some of the most popular flowers during this time of the year.
Carnation, or Clove Pink, is one of the most popular cut flowers with a wide range of available colors. Generally, these colorful blooms express distinction, fascination, and love, but their varying flower colors convey more meanings.
One example is white carnations, which represent pure love and good luck. Red carnations, on the other hand, often mean admiration (light red) and deep love and affection (dark red). Purple carnations symbolize capriciousness, while pink carnation flowers signify a mother’s eternal love.
Gardenias, another well-liked flower in December, is named after renowned botanist Alexander Garden. These sweetly fragrant flowers are a classic wedding favorite, particularly the white varieties. Purity and love are among the many meanings of these blooms. They are also associated with trust, renewal, intuition, dreams, and self-protection. Moreover, giving gardenias is a way of saying “you are lovely” to someone.
Tulips are known for their large, showy, and brightly colored blooms, commonly in red, white, pink, or yellow. In the language of flowers, tulips generally mean perfect love.
However, like the birthday flowers for December and other blooms, their colors give different meanings. Red tulips signify true, passionate love, while white tulips mean forgiveness. Purple tulips, which symbolize royalty, are also a popular pick.
Why Are There Three Birth Month Flowers in December?
December is represented by three official birth flowers: the Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly. While there isn’t a single reason why some months have more than one birth flower, several factors contribute to this phenomenon.
The most common likely reason for two birth month flowers in December can be attributed to folklore and cultural variances across regions and countries over time. Various traditions of assigning flowers to birth months have developed. These traditions can depend on the local climate, which influences what flowers bloom during a particular month, as well as local folklore and customs.
Moreover, different flowers carry different meanings in the language of flowers, a symbolic system that was particularly popular during the Victorian era. Two flowers for one month allow for a richer range of symbolic expressions.
What are the Origins of December Birth Month Flowers?
The tradition of December birth flowers is thought to have originated in ancient Rome, where flowers were given as gifts to celebrate birthdays and other special events. Each month was associated with a particular flower, believed to hold specific characteristics or powers that would be imparted to people born in that month.
The specific flowers associated with each month have varied throughout history and between cultures. For example, some cultures in the Middle Ages used the symbolic language of flowers, called floriography, to communicate coded messages based on the type and color of the flower given. This practice continued into the Victorian era when the language of flowers became extremely popular and complex.
Like many traditions, the current list of December birth month flowers that we use today has been influenced by various historical and cultural factors. It’s similar to birthstones, where each month is associated with a specific gemstone.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the Official Birth Month Flowers.
For the best local florists curating beautiful December birth flower arrangements, see our local guides to flower delivery in Los Angeles, Chicago, and NYC and the best nationwide flower delivery services.
The Official Birth Month Flower Calendar:
|Month:||Birth Flower:||Meanings & Symbolism:|
|January:||Carnations & Snowdrop||Pink Carnations (love and appreciation), White Carnations (luck, love, and affection, Red Carnations (love and friendship). Snowdrop (hope and rebirth).|
|February:||Violet, Iris, and Primrose||Violets (faithful love, truth, loyalty, humility), Iris (hope, faith, passion, purity, and innocence), Primrose (affection, young love, undying affection)|
|March:||Daffodils||Daffodils (new beginnings, faithfulness, luck, prosperity, and hope)|
|April:||Daisy & Sweet Pea||Daisy (purity, love, new beginnings, fertility, and motherhood). Sweet Pea (blissful pleasure, gratitude).|
|May:||Lily of the Valley & Hawthorn||Lily of the Valley (romance, luck, happiness, purity, humility). Hawthorn (hope, love, beauty, fertility, and supreme happiness).|
|June:||Roses & Honeysuckle||Roses (love, passion, romance, purity, gratitude). Honeysuckle (happiness and eternal love).|
|July:||Larkspur & Water Lily||Larkspur (happiness, love); Water Lily (enlightenment, resurrection, purity, beauty, creation).|
|August:||Gladiolus & Poppy||Gladiolus (integrity, honor, respect); Poppy (remembrance, prosperity, enchantment, sympathy).|
|September:||Aster & Morning Glory||Aster (faith, love, achievement, and wisdom); Morning Glory (affection, intimate love, patience).|
|October:||Marigolds & Cosmos||Marigolds (devotion, commitment); Cosmos (harmony, love, innocence, beauty, modesty, joy, and balance).|
|November:||Chrysanthemum & Peonies||Chrysanthemum (friendship, love); Peonies (romance, prosperity, good fortune, honor, and compassion)|
|December:||Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly,||Narcissus (innocence and purity); Poinsettia (success, celebration); Holly (happiness and optimism).|
December Birth Month Flowers FAQs:
What flower represents December?
In the language of flowers, the official flowers to celebrate December birthdays include Narcissus, Holly, and Poinsettia.
Why does the December birth flower mean?
December’s official birth flower, narcissus, commonly represents purity, sweetness, and simplicity. The narcissus flowers are also often associated with respect and faithfulness.
Are narcissus flowers available in December?
Narcissus flowers typically don’t start to bloom in the wild until late January at the earliest but they are readily available at florists throughout December.
What does the poinsettia birth flower mean?
Poinsettia flowers are named after American diplomat and physician Joel Roberts Poinsett, who took a vital role in bringing the plants from Mexico to North America.
The Aztecs considered these flowers as a symbol of purity. Today, the vibrant poinsettia flowers signify success, good cheer, and celebration.
Can I give Narcissus, Poinsettia, or Holly as birthday gifts in December?
Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly make great gifts for those born in December. These timeless seasonal flowers are perfect for the season.
Are there any superstitions or traditions associated with Narcissus and Holly?
In the language of flowers, Narcissus can mean unrequited love or respect, while Holly is often seen as a protective plant. Holly is also a popular decoration during Christmas, symbolizing the Christian belief in Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection.
Can I use these flowers in a bouquet?
Narcissus makes a beautiful addition to any bouquet with its bright, trumpet-shaped flowers. With their vibrant red berries, Holly branches are often used in winter floral arrangements and wreaths.
What are other names for these flowers?
Narcissus is commonly known as Daffodil, Jonquil, or Paperwhite. Holly is also known by its scientific name, Ilex, and has many different species.
December Birth Flowers – Wrapping Up
The Narcissus, Poinsettia, and Holly are December’s official birth month flowers and perfectly encapsulate the season. The Narcissus, symbolizing rebirth and new beginnings, aligns with December’s role as the gateway to the coming year. The vibrant poinsettia flowers signify success, good cheer, and celebration. With its sharp leaves and vivid berries, Holly is traditionally associated with happiness and goodwill.
For more, see our guide to the best birthday messages and quotes to share with friends, family, and loved ones.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.