Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Firsts #12 : Poinsettia

Today, 12 December, is Poinsettia Day in Mexico and USA. In Mexico, the poinsettia is called La Flor de la Nochebuena or  Flower of the Holy Night and is displayed on Dia de la Virgen (Day of the Virgin) which is celebrated today. Today also marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist and Minister to Mexico who in 1828 sent cuttings of the plant he'd discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina … and thus began the introduction of poinsettia outside of Mexico where it is a native plant. 

When did the poinsettia FIRST become a symbol of Christmas?

Sometime in the 17th century according to legend….

A young girl wanted to honour the Baby Jesus in a Christmas procession, but was very distressed as she had nothing to offer as a gift. An angel told her that any gift given with love is a perfect gift. (There is another version of this story which suggests that her cousin was the one with the good advice). The girl picked some weeds by the roadside to make a poor version of a bouquet. However, when she offered them and knelt by the Baby Jesus with her bouquet, the weeds suddenly turned into beautiful red star shaped flowers - poinsettia.  This is how the poinsettia got its Mexican name, meaning flower of the holy night and this story  established  the beginning of the flower's connection with Christmas. 


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