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Holidays & Seasons        < Previous        Next >

 

The Legend of the Poinsettia

 

Today's Snack: cocoa and toast points (cut a piece of buttered toast in fourths, diagonally) for dipping.

 

 

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Today's Supplies:

 

One poinsettia plant

 

Drawing paper

 

Thin black permanent felt tip

 

Red, green and yellow markers

 

 

Poinsettias are known as "the Christmas star." The red flowers, which are really leaves, are in the shape of a star. People think of them as a symbol of the star that shimmered over the City of Bethlehem in Israel when Jesus was born. The red color symbolizes the blood of Christ that was shed for the salvation of the world.

 

    

There are several legends concerning the poinsettia. One came out of Mexico, where poinsettias are native. A small, poor boy, wanting to have his very own gift to lay before the Creche (manger scene) at his church, knelt to pray outside.

 

When he arose, he discovered that the ground was covered with beautiful plants with scarlet leaves and yellow flowers. He then picked the flowers and laid them at the Creche as his gift to the Christ-child.

 

Another poinsettia legend from Mexico is about a girl named Pepeta, whose mother was asked to weave a new blanket to cover the Baby Jesus in the manger for the Christmas Eve service. Because the mother became ill, she was not able to complete the blanket.

 

Pepeta tried to weave, but could not do it alone. The best she could do was pick an armful of green weeds to lay over the Baby Jesus.

 

As Pepeta prayed, the green weeds were transformed into flaming red stars with green branches -- poinsettias. Today they are referred to as "La Flor De Noche Buena," the flowers of the Holy Night.

 

     Note that the flowers of a poinsettia are tiny and in the very center of the plant. The bright red, pink or white leaves are eye-catching, but aren't actually flowers.

 

The ancient Aztecs of Mexico used the poinsettia plant for red dye and to make a fever-reducing drug.

 

Here's a history note: poinsettias were discovered growing wild in Mexico sometime between 1825 and 1830 by Dr. Joel Roberts Pointsett, the first ambassador to Mexico.

 

Poinsett, a botanist, loved the plant and called it "painted leaves." He grew the plants in his greenhouse in Greenville, South Carolina. The plant became commercially popular when botanists used special techniques to get huge clusters of color to erupt at the top of the plant. Poinsettias are rather sparse in the wild, but with the special care, the colorful leaves can make a lush display.

 

Nowadays it is hard to think of Christmas without a poinsettia somewhere in the picture.

 

Speaking of poinsettias and pictures . . . for today's Treat, draw the poinsettia from the side or from the top. Then color in the red and green leaves and the tiny yellow blossoms at the center.

 

Be sure to sign and date it. Maybe you could even put it in an inexpensive frame, and bring your picture out every Christmas! It'll be a beautiful touch to your decorations . . . and you won't have to water it!

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Holidays and Seasons 33 2008

 

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