Vividly red poinsettias brighten our winter months and we immediately associate them with the festive season. However, did you know that they are native to Central America, particularly Southern Mexico? In fact, they are actually colourful leaves, not flowers. So why do we consider them to be the official Christmas Flowers anyway?
The reason, why we associate poinsettias with the holidays, comes from an old Mexican legend. A young girl named Pepita was sad that she didn’t have a gift to leave for the baby Jesus on the Christmas Eve service. Her cousin tried to comfort her by saying that Jesus would love any present from her, even the smallest one. With no money to buy a real gift, Pepita picked a bouquet of wildflowers on the way to the church. (According to the other version of the story, an angel came to her and instructed to pick up the plants.) When she got there, she left the wildflowers at the bottom of the nativity scene. All of a sudden, the plant transformed into a beautiful red flower.
From that day on, they became known as “Flores de Noche Buena,” or “Flowers of the Holy Night.”*
*Originally Published on Readers Digest