Flores de Noche Buena: “Flowers of the Holy Night”
The Poinsettia plant has been associated with Christmas since the early 19th century when Poinsett discovered it in a church in southern Mexico, decorating the nativity scene. He introduced the plant to the U.S. in 1825 and soon began propagating it in his green houses in South Carolina. Nearly 200 years later, Poinsettias are synonymous with the Christmas season around the world.
The vivid red flowers – actually leaves – have been revered since Aztec times. To the Aztecs, the deep red foliage symbolized the blood of sacrifices to the Gods; to Christians, the blood of Jesus on the cross. Christians also associate the star-shaped leaf pattern with the star of Bethlehem.
Of the many legends linking the Poinsettia and Christmas, my favorite tells of Pepita, a poor Mexican child walking to church on Christmas eve with her cousin Pedro. The little girl was teary-eyed because she had no gift for the nativity at the alter. Pedro consoled her, saying “…even a humble gift, if given with love, will be acceptable in His eyes”. Pepita gathered a handful of weeds from the side of the road and carried them to the chapel. As she approached the alter, a Christmas miracle occurred: the handful of weeds burst into a bouquet of brilliant red flowers.
The five Advent candles……one for each of the four Sundays before Christmas, and one for the Christ child.
Peace, Joy, Hope and Love
Photos by NB Hunter, at the Morrisville Community Church, Morrisville, New York. © All Rights Reserved.