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!
Today in school we moved onto Mexico. Actually, this was a little bit more low-key for us, as Turkey and Bunny already had some familiarity with Christmas in Mexico. They knew “Feliz Navidad,” they had an idea of Las Posadas from our failed field trip a week ago Saturday (someday, I would like to give seeing that traditional procession of Mary and Joseph looking for a room at night, illuminated by candlelight, lanterns, and flashlights another chance, because I think it would be awesome to see!), they knew pinatas are used for parties (although they were a little surprised that they could be used for something other than a birthday party!).
They did enjoy reading about the legend of the poinsettia, though. We turned back to our favorite Lion Storyteller Christmas Book, and read “A Flower for Christmas.” I have no idea if that’s the “real” poinsettia story, or if there might be others out there, but they really enjoyed it, even if Turkey did insist on pointing out to me that that could never happen. But we talked about how we have some poinsettias in our church, and we added a new symbol of Christmas to our list: stars in the Philippines, nativity scenes in Italy, Christmas trees in America, and now, the red poinsettia plant as a Christmas symbol in Mexico.
They also got to color a new picture in their Christmas Around the World coloring books. Much like we had discussed, it showed children taking turns at a pinata, with a backdrop of poinsettias. They loved the shapes the pinatas were in (three different animals), and they were puzzled and excited that the picture actually showed the pinata being used outdoors. So, they’ve decided that when the little tree we planted in our yard last spring gets bigger, they would like to try their hands at a pinata out there. Not a bad idea, actually.
Friday, we finish our Christmas journey around the world with my favorite country (outside of America, of course!): Germany. Until then, Feliz Navidad!