The Lake News    December 18, 2023    2 min read   

Did you know … it was only since the sixteenth century that the poinsettia flower has become symbolic with Christmas. It was cultivated by the Aztecs who used it in the production of red and purple dyes for clothing and cosmetics. In medicine the white sap was used to treat fevers.

It was a young girl, Pepita, who was responsible for the symbolic use of this plant. Young Pepita, accompanied by her brother Pedro, was on her way to church on Christmas Eve. She was poor and had no present to give to the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve service. 

As Pepita walked to the chapel, Pedro tried to cheer her up by telling her that even the smallest of gifts would be appreciated. She then plucked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and tied them into a small bouquet. She felt very embarrassed as she walked through the chapel to the altar, when she remembered Pedro’s words – and so she knelt down and put her bouquet of weeds at the bottom of the nativity scene. 

Instantly her bouquet of weeds burst into red flowers and became known as the “Flores de Noche Buena” – Flowers of the Holy Night. The actual name “poinsettia” is attributed to the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico 1828. He brought back some plants to the U.S. and successfully cultivated this unique plant in his greenhouse in South Carolina and eventually spread commercially. Its original name is Cuetlaxochitl. The legend belongs to Pepita.

Photo by Jeffry Surianto, Pexels.

The Lake News

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