Art and Culture

Dominican Traditions #3: Poinsettias – “Flor de Pascua”

Poinsettias

This post is also available in: Spanish

PoinsettiasIn this very important time of the year Dominicans tend to take the interior decoration of their home and their Christmas tree very seriously. And an essential element to the holiday decorations is the beautiful “Flor de Pascua”, or in English the Poinsettias. 

Poinsettias

In Dominican Republic, at all times of the year you can admire a huge variety of flowers and plants, however the main flower for the Christmas season is the Poinsettia or the “Flor de Pascua” as its known in countries in Central America, while in Mexico it is called the “Flor de Noche Buena”.

The beautiful red color of the “Flor de Pascua” makes it the perfect holiday decoration, but is its color the only reason why poinsettias are common used in this season?

Origins

The Aztecs were the first to cultivate this flower, as well as keeping them as a symbol of purity, they were also used to make red dye and a fever-reducing medication.

The plant’s association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson “blossoms” sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations. The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.

Poinsettias

Indigenous to Mexico and Central America, the Poinsettia was first introduced to the US in November 1825 by the first ambassador of that country, Joel R. Poinsett, which was also a botanist. The name “poinsettia” was derived from Mr Poinsett’s names and is how this flower is known in many countries.

Using Poinsettias at Christmastime 

These catchy flowers are without a doubt the favorites at this time of the year, but did you know you can also get them in white? Yes, you can! And both are absolutely gorgeous. Even though most people choose the red ones in this particular season, a combination of white and red can look especially beautiful at this festive time of year.

Use poinsettias as a natural way to decorate this Christmas time and your home will glow with Christmas cheer. You can use them in floral arrangements in or outside your homes and gardens, and some people even use them as single decorations on their Christmas trees.

Why are they called “Flor de Pascua” in Latin America?

“Pascua” or Easter is the commemoration of Jesus’ death and crucifixion. So “Flor de Pascua” actually means the “Easter Flower”. Strangely however, this flower is not commonly used at Easter, but instead at Christmas, which is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

This is the third article in our series “Dominican holiday traditions”, click on the links below to read article #1 and #2

Dominican Traditions #1: Angelitos

Dominican Taditions #2: Aguinaldos

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