Friday, December 9, 2016

History and legend of the Poinsettia

The plant Euphorbia pulcherrima, which we have named poinsettia is indigenous to Central America and grew vigorously in parts of Southern Mexico. Known by the Aztecs as the "flower that grows in residues," it was prized for its beauty and also for cosmetic and medicinal purposes.

During the presidency of James Madison, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851) became the first American Ambassador to Mexico.  He was the son of a French physician and had developed a deep interest in botany. 

While visiting Taxco del Alarcon in 1828, he was delighted by the beautiful red plants he saw all around.  Sending a few samples back to his greenhouses in South Carolina, he soon propagated the plants.  They made special gifts for friends and a welcome addition to botanical gardens of the time. 

One man gifted by the plant was John Bartram of Philadelphia.  He gave it over to a Robert Buist, nurseryman in Pennsylvania.  From there, the enchanting plant sold well to other Americans and became known in name for the man who brought it to America.

Since then, the man and his popular Christmas plant is honored on December 12 designated by Congress as National Poinsettia Day.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Poinsett founded the roots of today's Smithsonian Institution.

The Legend of the Poinsettia

The plant's connection with Christmas began in Mexico during the 1500's.  It seems there was a poor Mexican girl named Pepita who had no gift for the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services.

As she and her cousin Pedro walked to the chapel, a feeling of gloom overtook her heart.  Pedro tried to console her by reminding her that it isn't a fancy gift that is important but that any gift of love is acceptable.

Rather than appear empty handed, she picked out some weeds and tried to make a pretty bouquet of them.  Pepita felt tears come to her eyes as she walked through the doors of the village chapel with her drab gift for the One she adored above all.

As she approached the altar, the love within her shone bright.  She knelt to leave the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene and suddenly felt a warming spirit all around her.  The bouquet she dropped started to bloom into bursts of brilliant red and green.  It was Christmas miracle of love!

Since then, the bright red flowers became known as Flowers of the Holy Night and come back every year at Christmas time.


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Advent Season

The Advent wreath represents eternity upon which five candles are arranged to depict the Light of Christ.  Light Candle

During the season of Advent, 
one candle each Sunday is lit to show a gift of spiritual preparation
for the coming of our Lord.
Three purple candles and one rose-colored candle. In the center of the wreath sits a white candle. 

On the first Sunday of Advent,
the first purple candle ("Prophecy Candle") is lit.
This candle represents hope in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Isaiah 9:6 
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

 Micah 5:2 
But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

On the second Sunday of Advent,
the second purple candle is lit.  This candle ("Bethlehem Candle") points out the love.God has shown us. 

On the third Sunday of Advent, 
the rose-colored candle is lit. This candle ("Shepherds' Candle") represents joy.

On the fourth Sunday of Advent,
the last purple candle is lit.  This candle ("Angels' Candle") represents peace.

On Christmas Eve,
the white center candle ("Christ Candle") is lit. It represents purity in the life of Christ the Savior who has come into the world.
Those who receive Him are made whiter than snow.

Isaiah 1:18
"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool." (ESV)


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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