Without a poinsettia, the festival is not cheesy enough

EThere should be people who put up a suitable decoration for every calendar occasion. My dear neighbors, to name one example, even hang up doors, walls and furniture with garlands and fuss at Mardi Gras, so that as a guest you would rather escape to the balcony if you think psychedelic garden gnomes are the lesser evil. I see it this way: Much of the usual commercial decoration is useless kitsch that spoils the house and garden and scares the animals.

Andreas Frey

Freelance writer in the science of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Even now in Advent, many apartments and balconies have been transformed into flashing caves of contemplation, which trigger a lot in me, just no Christmas spirit. On the balcony railing opposite, a life-size Playmobil figure disguised as Santa Claus rides on a reindeer sleigh made of fairy lights towards the festival. Anyone who finds something like this beautiful will probably also consider “Last Christmas” to be indispensable as an atmospheric ballad. I only react more allergically to myself Euphorbia pulcherrima, that overgrown tropical plant that is called poinsettia in this country and is currently being sold again in discount stores.

But it’s not just the miserable ecological and climate footprint of these plants that bothers me, it’s the color. The red of the bracts is as obtrusive and covered as all the rampant cultivation of those shrubs from western Central America, where they can reach heights of five meters and more. Christmas red is called this shade, and it’s hard to escape from. Whether candles, Christmas tree balls, Santa Clauses, tablecloths and, more recently, mouth and nose covers. I only see red.

The connoisseur reaches for amaryllis

This red is much older than Coca-Cola, it became popular as early as the 19th century, as postcards show. Santa Claus and poinsettia came to us later across the Atlantic. The color red probably symbolizes St. Nicholas of Myra, a bishop who died on December 6th in the fourth century. A second explanation for the trend towards red symbolism at Christmas makes it significantly older. For fifty thousand years, red has been the color of life and fertility, explains Axel Buether, color psychologist at the University of Wuppertal. The ancient Romans also adorned their houses at the winter solstice with red apples and green laurel, as a sign of fertility and hope. Green makes the red shine, enhances it. The symbolism certainly helped with the marketing of the poinsettia, it is now one of the best-selling potted plants.


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