Familiar Christmas Plant Has Midlands Roots

7:58 PM, Dec 12, 2013   |    comments
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Sumter County, SC (WLTX) -- This time of year we enjoy the reds and greens of the Christmas season, but one of the plants we enjoy this time of the year has roots right here in the Midlands.

The historical Church of the Holy Cross sits off of North Kings Highway in the community of Stateburg in the Sumter County.

Just like many of us, the church too is getting into the holiday spirit with the Advent candle.

"It's a wonderful time, it is very exciting because we are in what is called the Advent season," said Father Michael Ridgill, priest-in-charge at the church.

Ridgill said, "Advent is when you are anticipating the celebration of the birth of Christ, so we are very excited about that."

The church is on property that was donated by General Thomas Sumter, but the historical significance of the grounds does not end there.

"This is the grave of Joel Poinsett who was a statesman and a diplomat that served in Mexico," said Ridgill.

Poinsett also served as a state legislator from 1816 to 1820 and he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1821 to 1825.

However, it was what did in 1826 when he introduced a new flower to the United States that still is making an impact on us especially this time of year.

Ridgill said, "The poinsettia is named after him and that flower, I can't speak Spanish so I am not going to inflict that, but that flower basically means the flower of Christmas Eve."

Now almost 162 years since Poinsett's death, his life and legacy continues through the these holiday plants.


Ridgill said, "What makes it exciting here of course is the history is alive and so the poinsettia helps do that, because we celebrate not only using the poinsettia at Christmas at this church but at many churches and many denominations."

"It is just a blessing a privilege to have the person that the flower is named after buried here in the graveyard," said Ridgill.

National Poinsettia Day is celebrated annually on December 12th, that is also the day Poinsett died at his Sumter County home in 1851.

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