Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December - month of the Poinsettia

Here we are in December already!  Christmas lights, family traditions and the exchange of gifts abound.  Poinsettia's are one of the most common plants used during this season.  These beautiful plants have been associated with the Christmas holiday for centuries.

During the 16th century in Mexico, a legand began of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for Jesus' birthday celebration.  An angel inspired the young girl to make a bouquet of weeds found on the side of the road and place them in front of the church altar.  Beautiful dark red blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became poinsettias - causing the congregation to believe they witnessed a Christmas miracle.  Today in Mexico the poinsettia is known as "Noche Buena", meaning Christmas Eve.  The star-shaped pattern of the leaves is symbolic of the Star of Bethlehem and the crimson color represents the blood sacrifice through Jesus' crucifixion.

This cheerful plant is available in a variety of colors, with red being the most popular.  Blooms can also be found in cream, lemon, peach, pink and white.  Being native to Mexico and Central America, this plant is really a tree.  Over the years it was cultivated into smaller plants for more commerical and home purposes. 

The ancient Aztecs also prized this wonderful plant and considered it to be a symbol of purity.  They utilized the sap to control fevers and the leaves were used to make a red dye.  The Aztec king, Montezuma, had hundreds of poinsettias brought to the highlands since they did not grow there naturally. 


May the Peace of Christmas
Fill your heart from day to day
May the Love of Christmas
Show in all you do and say
May the Hope of Christmas
Now and always light your way