Today was part two of “Christmas in Mexico.” Our travels today focused on the poinsettia, both the fact and fiction. We started with facts, and *I* learned several things, including the fact that I have been spelling poinsettia incorrectly my whole life (I always thought it was point-settia). We also learned that the poinsettia was first introduced to America in 1829-ish (it really depends on who you ask!) by Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and brought the brightly colored flowers home with him. We also learned that the colored “petals” are actually just leaves, which require 12 hours of darkness at a time to change color. Who knew poinsettias were so fascinating?
After learning the true facts about the poinsettia, we then read the legend “A Gift from the Heart,” in The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories. This is the traditional Mexican Christmas story which explains the origin of the poinsettia. In the legend, a young girl, Maria, doesn’t have the money to buy a gift to take to church on Christmas to lay in front of Baby Jesus in the manger. Instead, she brings the only thing she can find–a bunch of weeds. She tries to wrap them in a shawl so that no one will see her lowly gift, but they weeds end up being unwrapped in front of the whole congregation, and they are all shocked to see the beautiful flowers. There are other variations on this legend, some of which we have read in the past, but this was the story of choice for this year.
To wrap up “Christmas in Mexico,” as well as “Poinsettia Day,” we made 3-D paper poinsettias. Turkey and Bunny really liked this project, and they looked really cool when they were finished!