While many of our Christmas symbols and traditions came from the “Old World” or European origins – the Poinsettia is from the “New World” south of our boarder in Mexico. The Mexicans have a legend of the Poinsettia and its beginning. The story is told of a poor girl, Pepita who is on her way to Christmas Eve services but has no gift to bring the baby Jesus. She is so sad about this. Her cousin encourages her by saying, surely any gift brought with love to the baby Jesus he will be happy to receive. Pepita then picks some weeds on the side of the road and make a bouquet. At church she is timid to bring such a humble gift but then remembers the words of her cousin. She lays the bouquet of weeds at the manger and at that moment the weeds transform into beautiful red flowers. This flower is considered a miraculous gift of the Christ Child. In Mexico the flower is called “Flores de Noche Buena” – flower of the Holy Night. The shape of the flowers reminds us of the star of Bethlehem and the red and white flowers remind us of the blood Jesus shed and the forgiveness he brings.
The American term for this flower comes from the first US ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. He was an amateur botanist who brought the plant back with him in 1828. By the mid-1830’s the flower began to grow in popularity in the United States. It is from this ambassador that we get the name Poinsettia.
With Children: Hang tags #21 with a Poinsettia. Tell the legend of the Poinsettia and wonder what they would like to give Jesus this year? Put a gift under the tree for Jesus on Christmas Eve.
With Teens: Have them write a note/letter to Jesus to leave under the tree this Christmas.