I love poinsettias and we always laughed that my grandmother was the only person we knew who could keep one alive the whole year. Every Christmas my mother fills her home with them and it is something I have started doing in recent years.
But do you know the Mexican folktale about how the poinsettia and Christmas came together? It goes like this:
There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve Services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
'Pepita', he said "I'm sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus Happy."
Pepita didn't know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the 'Flores de Noche Buena', or 'Flowers of the Holy Night'.
The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.
This story really captivated Lexi and she went out and picked me some weeds from around our complex later the same day.
She loved making this paper plate poinsettia and I found it a great activity that she could do with little guidance. Younger children may need some help with the cutting, otherwise, leave them to be creative and see what they create.
You will need:
3 paper plates
Red, green, white and yellow paint (we used acrylic)
Small sponges (I cut a bigger one into small pieces)
Yellow tissue paper or pom poms
Small cup or lid
White school glue
Use your cup or lid to trace a circle in the middle of each plate.
Draw your leaf / petal shapes on your plates getting smaller with each one. Older kids will be fine eye-balling a leaf shape and drawing / cutting it themselves.
Have your child cut out the flower shapes, without cutting through the circle.
Use the sponges and paint to sponge paint the green onto the large plate, and a combination of red and white paint on the two other plates. The yellow can be dabbed on the centre of each to add some texture.
Once the paint has dried use oil pastels to draw the veins and stems on the leaves and flowers.
Glue the plates together.
Roll up yellow tissue paper into little balls and glue to the centre (or in our case we used pom poms).
As the glue dries the leaves and flowers will curl. If you want them to curl a bit more give them a light spritz of water and place upside down over a cup.