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Poinsettia - Flor de Nochebuena
The Legend & History of the Christmas Flower

A charming story is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked slowly to the chapel with her cousin Pedro, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy."I am sure, Pepita, that even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes," said Pedro consolingly.

Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back a tear as she entered the small village chapel.

As she approached the alter, she remembered Pedro's kind words: "Even the most humble gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes." She felt her spirit lift as she knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene.

Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes.

From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season.

Nochebuena, the Mexican name of the flower English-speakers call Poinsettia, was discovered in Taxco and the valleys surrounding Cuernavaca. Known by the Aztecs in their native Nahuatl language as Cuetlaxochitl, it was prized in the prehispanic era for the curative properties of the milk that dripped from the leaves, stems and flowers when cut.

Its greatest promoter, however, was Joel Roberto Poinsett (1770-1851), who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico following Mexico's Independence from Spain. He fell in love with the plant and brought some back to decorate his mansion in Charlestonville, South Carolina during Christmas, and upon his return home several years later he was astonished to find the entire town growing the Christmas flower, or "poinsettia" as it was now known.

Today, millions of dollars of poinsettias are sold each year throughout the world to herald the Christmas season. Poinsettia are not disposable plants as most people believe, but can be planted and rebloom. My abuela had huge plants in her backyard which bloomed year around.       * Poinsettia Plant Care Tips


Article courtesy of CasaQ - A Culture. A Lifestyle.
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