Dr. Joel Poinsett, first Ambassador to Mexico, first brought the bright red, star-shaped flower to the United States. Later named “Poinsettia," the flower is also known as “Flame Leaf” or “Flower of the Holy Night.” The Mexican legend related to this favorite Christmas flower is as follows:
There was once a brother and sister, Maria and Pablo, who were very poor. They lived in a village and barely had enough to eat. As Christmas time approached, festivities, parades and parties in the village attracted the children. It was a festive season with many decorations, including a large manger scene at the village church. All of the children were eager to go see the manger scene and surround the Baby Jesus with the best presents money could buy. Mario and Pablo also wanted to give expensive presents to the Holy Child, but had no money. Yet they still wanted to see the manger scene and Baby Jesus just once and give something to Him. So on Christmas Eve, Maria and Pablo set out for church a little earlier than others to attend the service. Since they had no presents to give, they picked some weeds growing along the roadside to make a softer bed for Baby Jesus and to decorate His crib. While they were still decorating the crib, the other children began to arrive. Some of the children teased Maria and Pablo for bringing weeds instead of fancy gifts. Mario and Pablo were near tears of shame when suddenly the weeds they offered burst into bright red petals that looked like stars. The weeds were transformed into flowers so beautiful that everyone was left standing in awe. The miracle made everyone realize that a gift of love is dearer to Jesus than the most expensive present money can buy.
Poinsettia flowers have long been a Christmas favorite, along with the legend of two young children who, in offering their love, remind us each year of the greatest gift of all: Jesus Christ.
Adapted from Paul Ecke, http://www.ecke.com/HTML/h_corp/corp_legend.html