Friday, December 12, 2008
History of the poinsettia and the Christmas tradition
In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuitlaxochitl meaning "star flower." The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication. In both Chile and Peru, the plant became known as "Crown of the Andes".
The plants' association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.From the 17th century, Franciscan monks in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.
There are over 100 varieties of poinsettia available. 74% of Americans prefer red poinsettias, 8% prefer white, and 6% prefer pink.
In the United States, December 12th is National Poinsettia Day.
Lady of the Mote