Each year in time for Christmas we grow simple amaryllis and paper whites on a table in a south-facing window behind one of the living room sofas. Observing the flowers unfold in a bloom of color and fragrance is a holiday tradition that prepares me and the house for Christmas. I enjoy this tradition as much as I enjoy my advent wreath.
What's no fun to celebrate is the cost of Amaryllis bulbs. In Washington/Bethesda, I have seen the loose bulbs selling for as much as $25 at one of our nursery/garden shops! I've never bought the flower bulbs at that high price. Instead, I've had good luck with the Holland Bulb kits that sell between $8-12 at the supermarket. (They are also available online.)
The downside with the kits is that they come shipped with a plastic planting pot and bag of peat moss which we don't use. Cheaper price, but excessive waste in my opinion . . .
I don't know how or when the tradition of forcing amaryllis during the holidays evolved. Part of the Lily family, the flower is "symbolic of pride and at times timidity." It may also be a symbol of "pastoral poetry and of satisfactory outcomes" according to one vendor. I like the sound of a little "pastoral poetry" around the house.