The birth month flower for December is the narcissus, more commonly known as the daffodil or jonquil. It’s a busy flower, as it is also the birth month flower for March; the tenth anniversary flower; the flower most synonymous with springtime; the most popular cut flower in Germany, and one of the most popular flowers in the world. It usually symbolizes formality, or “stay as sweet as you are.” The alternative flower for the month of December is the holly, which signifies friendship and happiness.
There are two widely-accepted derivations of the name narcissus. The first is from the Greek word narkao, meaning to numb (from which we also get the words narcotic and narcosis, and which relates to the narcotic, and poisonous, properties of the plant (especially the bulb, though the scent can, in a confined space, cause quite a severe headache.) The second derivation is also from the Greeks, but in this case Greek mythology, in which a self-absorbed youth named Narcissus became so enamored of his own reflection that he kneeled by a still pond to gaze at himself, fell in and drowned. The flower sprang from where he died.
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The flower symbolism most commonly associated with the narcissus is formality and “stay as sweet as you are”. The narcissus, thanks to the legend of Narcissus, also represents self-esteem, egotism and vanity. Perhaps for this reason, some people have started to replace the narcissus with the poinsettia as December’s flower.
The alternative flower for December is the evergreen holly, signifying friendship and happiness. Holly used to be placed around the house to symbolize hospitality and friendship, in earlier pagan times. With white flowers, glorious red berries and shiny green leaves, it was believed that holly kept the oak – a sacred tree – lost its leaves for the winter. The Romans declared the holly to be the sacred plant of Saturn, and gave each other wreaths during the week-long feast of Saturnalia that was celebrated in December.