December’s birth flowers are the Paperwhite Narcissus and Holly.


Native to the Mediterranean region, the Paperwhite Narcissus has been naturalised in many parts of the world, including North America, Asia, and Europe. 
Paperwhites Narcissus are the oldest and most widely distributed of the Narcissus flowers. Originating in the Mediterranean and adjacent areas of central Asia, they were traded along the silk road as an early item of commerce. They are said to have been introduced into China by Arab traders during the Late Sung period, about 1,000 years ago. Blooming in mid-winter, the Paperwhite Narcissus is associated with Chinese New Year.Its strong fragrance is used to make perfumes, but the Paperwhite is fairly poisonous, with the bulb being the most toxic.


According to Greek mythology, the Narcissus flower got its name from the Greek god Narcissus, the son of the nymph Liriope and the river god Cephissus. Ovid’s Metamorphoses tells the story of Narcissus’s mother, who was told by the seer Tiresias that Narcissus would enjoy a long life, provided he never recognised himself. Distinguished for his beauty Narcissus became fixated on his own looks. He ultimately fell in love with his reflection in the water, eventually drowning in his reflection. Upon his death, the Narcissus flower was said to have grown in the place where he perished.

The Paperwhite Narcissus got its name from its fragrant white delicate petals, described as thin as paper. Produces blooms and as many as a dozen flowers. The paperwhite is said to represent express pure or unconditional love, faithfulness, and respect.
Many believed the flower had a negative meaning, including being self-centred. In Victorian times, Narcissus was given to mean you are “the only one.”

Five Paperwhite Narcissus flowers for December birth month
single Paperwhite Narcissus bloom
The December birth flower, Paperwhite Narcissus


The Narcissus is known for its negative influence on other cut flowers. It secretes poisons that can be toxic to many other flowers. To minimise this, place the paper white Narcissus in a separate container when first cut, keeping them overnight before mixing them with other flowers. The flower will only secrete this poison when the stem is re-cut.

Paperwhite Narcissus buds and blooms

THE SECONDARY December Birth Flowers

holly with red berries and green serrated leaves


The holly plant is a mainstay in Christmas decor. This evergreen shrub, with its red berries, glossy green leaves and spiny serrated edges, is often used in Christmas wreaths and centrepieces. Native to Europe, North America, China and Japan, the Holly is a bright spot on a cold winter landscape.

They are dioecious, requiring a male and female plant to grow the recognisable red berries, which can also appear as yellow, pink, black, and white. Only the female varieties produce berries. Wood from the Holly is often used to make chess pieces and boards, along with horse whips.


The ancient Romans gave Holly during the harvest festival of Saturnalia, which was held around the winter solstice. Recipients would hang the Holly in their homes to protect it from lightning and evil spirits.

Christians believe that Holly’s spiky leaves represent the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head at the crucifixion. The spiky leaves are a symbol of tertiary and pain., while the red berries are symbolic of his blood. Others, though, see the Holly as a representation of protection and defence.

In Great Britain, druids decorated their homes with Holly during the winter solstice to symbolise the renewal of life and light. Pagans and Celtics associate holly with the Holly King, who ruled Earth between the winter and the summer solstices, believing holly symbolised hope, wealth, and fertility. More recently, it has come to represent happiness and peace.


Wondering what other birth flowers mean? Take a look at our birth month flower guides to learn more

Close up Pink and Red Chrysanthemum flowers in a bouquet

The Chrysanthemum is November’s birth flower

January’s primary birth flower is the carnation, the secondary birth flower is the snowdrop

close up of a iris which is the birth month flower of February

The Iris is February’s primary birth flower, and the secondary birth flower is the violet


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