Poinsettias and Christmas seem to go together like peas and carrots. This association hasn’t always been the case. Its roots stem from Mexican legend. As legend has it, a child who could not afford a proper gift to offer the Christ child on Christmas Eve was left to pick weeds from the roadside. The child was told that any gift given in earnest and with love is valued in God’s eyes. When the child placed the weeds onto the church altar, they miraculously bloomed into a poinsettia with its bright red flowers.
Poinsettias are native to southern Mexico and Central America, where they may reach heights of sixteen feet. They are named after the first United States ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett. A physician, politician and an avid amateur botanist, Dr. Poinsett sent samples of the plants to the U.S. in 1825 and by 1836 the plant had become commonly known as the poinsettia.
The Aztec Indians prized poinsettias (pronounced oohahargh-do in their native tongue) and considered them a symbol of purity because of their brilliant red color. The Aztecs made a reddish dye from the flowers of the poinsettia. They also made a medicine said to fight fevers from the sap of the plant. One common myth of the plant is that its sap is poisonous. Although not tasty, it has not been found to be poisonous.
Today every festive holiday party is sure to contain the popular plant. Its brilliant colors are sure to brighten any venue.
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Happy Holidays to all!
The Starbright Team