You may have already heard about the origins of the poinsettia and how it was discovered in Mexico, but just in case you didn’t, here’s a little history lesson for you. In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and amateur botanist, noticed the plant growing in the southern regions of Mexico. He sent some plants home to his greenhouses in South Carolina to propagate. The plant quickly became popular in the United States and was known as the “Mexican fire plant”. Upon Poinsett’s death in the mid 1800’s, the plant was renamed the poinsettia.
The Aztecs had many uses for the flowers (actually leaves called “bracts”). They used them to make purple dyes for clothes and turned the milky white sap into medicine to treat fevers. Thank goodness we have better methods for treating fevers today.
There is an old Mexican legend about how poinsettias and Christmas came together. There was once a poor Mexican girl, Pepita, who had no present to give baby Jesus at Christmas Eve services. As she walked to the chapel, she picked some weeds, made them into a small bouquet and put it at the bottom of the nativity scene at the altar. The weeds suddenly burst into bright red flowers and everyone was sure they had seen a miracle!
This year, the Jewish “Festival of Lights”, called Hanukkah is December 16 to December 24th, 2014. Every night a candle is lit on the menorah candelabra, eight in all. The ninth candle is used to light the others. A special blessing is said before the lighting. Presents are given and games are played. A truly festive evening!
The “Yule Log” is burning in our tree lot to chase the chill away while you shop for your Christmas tree. The log originated as a Nordic tradition but spread to other countries. It was to last for the “Twelve Days of Christmas”, burning some of it each evening. We, at Wagners, modify the tradition a little bit and refresh the fire with a new log each day.
Have a happy and blessed holiday, no matter how you celebrate the season!
P.S. Don’t miss a visit with Santa this Saturday at our Minneapolis store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Complimentary photos, refreshments and fun!