Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
“Conversely, the red plant itself burns a brighter red when set off by the green than when it grows among its peers. Colour is not something one has, colour is bestowed on one by others.”
~ Arthur Japin, De zwarte met het witte hart, 1997
In Mexico, where the beautiful Poinsettia flower originates, it is traditionally displayed around the Dia de la Virgen, December 12, which coincidentally, marks the passing of namesake American botanist, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who discovered the plant while visiting in Southern Mexico and helped to popularize it.
The Poinsettia (Euphorbia Pulcherrima) is native to Mexico and was called "Cuetlaxochitl" by the Aztecs, who cultivated it as a gift from the gods, signifying "The flower that withers, mortal flower that perishes like all that is pure".
Montezuma (1480 - 1520), the last of the Aztec Kings, adorned his palaces with the plant. With its blood red color, it served as a reminder of the sacrifice the gods had made to create the universe, and the debt which would be repaid with human sacrifice. The Aztecs also used the sap of the plant to cure fever, and the leaves to make a dye.
By the 17th century, Franciscan missionaries started integrating the flower into the Christian nativity processions, the Fiesta of Santa Pesebre. It is around this time that many legends originate, purporting to explain why the plant, beginning to be called "la Flor de Nochebuena," or "Holy Night" flower, acquired its brilliant color.
One popular folk story tells about Pepita, a poor young Mexican girl heartbroken at not having the money to buy baby Jesus a present. Seeing her in tears, an angel appears to her and tells her to gather a bundle of the weeds growing nearby. When her tears fall upon the weeds they miraculously turn into glorious red blooms.
In Mexico, the Poinsettia is displayed around Dia de la Virgen, December 12, coincidentally, the same date chosen for Poinsettia Day in the United States, marking the passing of American botanist Joel Roberts Poinsett who discovered the plant while visiting in Southern Mexico.
For a holiday recipe for poinsettia punch (using cranberry juice, orange vodka, champagne and cranberries), click the punch below.