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Legend of Poinsettias

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Poinsettia – Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Gutbier V-17 Angelika Red'
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Gilles Murray)
Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Gutbier V-17 Angelika Red'

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima), members of the Euphorbiaceae family, have become a modern-day symbol of the holiday season in many countries. In Mexico, they figure in a charming religious story.

A legend from Mexico

A young girl named Pepita was walking sadly toward church on Christmas Eve.

At the sight of all the children hurrying along with gifts for the Christ Child, she burst into tears. She was so poor that she had nothing to offer and was too ashamed to enter the church without a gift of her own to honour Christ's birth.

Her cousin Pedro said consolingly, "Pepita, I'm sure that even the humblest gift, if given in love, will be acceptable in His eyes." So, Pepita gathered a handful of leaves from a common, straggly shrub.

She entered the church and humbly set down her bouquet. At that moment, the leaves burst into a brilliant red. The plant was called "Flor de Nochebuena" or "Flower of the Holy Night." The story tells that since then all wild poinsettias turn to flamboyant colours for Christmas.

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