|Poinsettia via en.wikipedia.org|
The symbolism of the poinsettia goes much deeper than simply adding color to Christmas time. Before delving into its history and spiritual meaning, let's examine a bit of poinsettia trivia:
Did you know...
~The poinsettia was cultivated by the Aztecs in Mexico and boasts a natural habitat of Central America.
~The name is derived from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico.
~The poinsettia was introduced into the United States in 1825.
~The poinsettia is the most popular holiday flower being first sold in the United States in 1850.
~There are over 100 cultivated varieties of poinsettia.
~Poinsettia varieties come in many colors.
~The showy flowers of the poinsettia consists of modified leaves or bracts, are unassuming and do not attract pollinators.
Why the Poinsettia at Christmas?
A popular legend surrounding the poinsettia dates back to 16th century Mexico. On Christmas Eve, a little Indian girl (some legends declare a Mexican boy) wanted to bring a gift to present to baby Jesus lying in the creche at her church. Being of a very poor family, she could not buy a gift.A gift of the heart is indeed the most precious gift of all. The simplest of gifts carries with it the spirit of true thankfulness.
On the way to church, the little girl gathered some green weeds growing on the outer edge of a field. Some say an angel guided her to pick a bouquet of weeds from along the roadside. Either way, she walked down the aisle of the church to place her 'bouquet of weeds' at the foot of the nativity scene. She felt embarrassed because hers was not elegant and extravagant compared to other gifts.
Suddenly with the green weeds turning a beautiful crimson in color, all around were made aware she had given the most wonderful gift of all, the gift of genuine love. Since then the poinsettia has been known as "La Flor de Noche Buena", meaning Christmas Eve Flower.
The bright red leaves of the poinsettia symbolize the burning, divine love of our Redeemer. The shape of the cluster of leaves, along with the contrast of the red with green, also reminds us of the star of Bethlehem that shone so brightly the night Jesus was born, which guided the Magi to visit Him.
As we look upon our decorations this year, may our visions serve as reminders of the real meaning why Christmas is declared a celebration.
Merry Christmas Eve!