Big Poinsettia blooms again as houseplant exerts annual hold over festive foliage

Image of the week: Red or white?

Poinsettias, the now ubiquitous Christmas houseplant, are native to Mexico and Central America and were named after a bloke called Joel Robert Poinsett who introduced them to the US in the 1820s – facts that might come in useful if the small talk over turkey dinner with your in-laws grinds to a halt.

Here, Monika Dratwicka, commercial manager of Bridge Farm Group, inspects the lesser spotted white “Alaska” poinsettia in a sea of traditional red ones at a facility in Lincolnshire in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of poinsettias are also produced in Ireland by specialist growers, which is helpful, as they don’t tend to travel well.

The festive plants take five months to produce in a labour-intensive process that begins between the end of June and mid-July, when the plugs – young plants – are potted up in commercial glasshouses. They are then monitored continuously for even growth, colour and health until they become supermarket-ready, with Bord Bia estimating their farm gate value at €2.1 million.

“The plant can be kept after Christmas and its bract (red leaves) will return the following year with regular care,” ventures Bord Bia in advice that sounds like it could have the potential to dent the sales garnered by Big Poinsettia but, let’s face it, probably won’t.

In numbers: Hasbro job losses


Jobs that will be cut at Monopoly and Transformers toymaker Hasbro, after weaker sales proved stronger and more persistent than expected. “I know this news is especially difficult during the holiday season,” chief executive Chris Cocks told staff.


Combined with an earlier round of layoffs announced last January, Hasbro has now let go this percentage of its staff, with the shrinking of its workforce coming as many of its customers have struggled with high rates of inflation and dispensed with purchases such as toys.


Expected slump in revenue this year at the company, which also makes Nerf guns, Dungeons & Dragons and the toys for every toddlers’ favourite porcine television show, Peppa Pig.

Getting to know: Viking Toast

Viking Toast was this year’s top recipe search in Ireland, according to Google, beating such classics as the Pornstar Martini and Marry Me Chicken. Popularised on TikTok and other social media apps, Viking Toast is credited to chef duo Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, authors of cookbook Pinch of Nom, and is, essentially, a souped-up cheddar cheese on toast, with onion, relish, black pepper, egg yolk and skimmed milk also involved somehow. The good news is that the preparation time is a mere five minutes and the cooking time a modest 10. The bad news is that “what is Viking Toast” wasn’t the top “what is” search on Google in Ireland this year. That was the less wholesome question “what is botulism” followed by “what is a barter account”.

The list: Christmas TV

The lead-in to Christmas has been painful: too much work, too much queueing, too much indulgence, just too much. You finally get a chance to sit down on Christmas Day in the hope that broadcasters and streamers have got some treats in store. So what’s on?

1. Armageddon: To Netflix, nothing says Christmas Day like a Ricky Gervais stand-up special with an end-of-the-world theme. A petition has been launched against a segment about terminally ill children.

2. Mrs Brown’s Boys: Doing what it can for unity between Britain and Ireland, one way or the other, Brendan O’Carroll’s show is scheduled on both RTÉ One and BBC One.

3. Belfast and Róise & Frank: In “actual good films” alert, Kenneth Branagh’s take on his childhood, set near the start of the Troubles, is the main event on RTÉ One, while TG4 has the premiere of Cine4 comedy drama Róise & Frank.

4. The King’s Christmas Broadcast: The second year for the BBC’s new iteration of its royal festive message franchise.

5. The Wizard of Oz: Virgin Media One’s afternoon pick is the 1939 classic once memorably synopsised in a TV listing by US journalist Rick Polito thus: “Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.”

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