What we call the Poinsettia is native to Mexico and was called Cuetlaxochitl by the Aztecs. Its name signified "Flower that withers, mortal flower that perishes like all that is pure".
In the 17th century (post conquest) missionaries settled in an area of Southern Mexico known as Taxco del Alarcon. The flaming wild flower became a part of Christian ceremony when it was used in the nativity procession, the “Fiesta of Santa Pesebre”. It is around this time that many legends originate, purporting to explain why the plant, beginning to be called "la flor de Nochebuena," or Holy Night (Christmas Eve) flower, acquired its brilliant color.
One popular folk story tells about Pepita, a poor young Mexican girl heartbroken at not having the money to buy baby Jesus a present. Seeing her in tears, an angel appears to her and tells her to gather a bundle of the weeds growing nearby. When her tears fall upon the weeds they miraculously turn into glorious red blooms.
Another legend tells of the Franciscan friars celebrating Christmas with a lovingly decorated nativity scene. During the mass, as the Star of Bethlehem passed overhead, the leaves turned from green to bright red. The poinsettia, formally a symbol of Aztec sacrifice, became a symbol of the blood of Christ and quickly associated itself with the Christmas season.
The Poinsettia is a beautiful symbol of Christmas and the love surrounding the season. Wishing everyone a blessed Holiday Season!