Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

I survived finals! I'm so thankful to have a whole month of winter break ahead of me. A small amount of it will be spent in Houston, Texas because my college football team is playing in a bowl game there on the 28th and the band is going too! Then it'll be home or a little more than a week in January and the rest of the time will be spent relaxing in Minnesota.

In honor of the holidays, I did a little research on the lovely poinsettias that grace all the holiday displays every year.

1. Poinsettias are native to Mexico and the ancient Aztecs, who called the plant "Cuetlaxochitl", used their colorful bracts (the red part) to make dyes and the sap was used as a fever medication.

2. Poinsettias were first only known by the Latin name Euphorbia pulcherrima, meaning "very beautiful".

3. The plant got it's current common name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first US ambassador assigned to Mexico by John Quincy Adams. While in Mexico for his work as an ambassador, Poinsett, who was also an avid botanist, collected plants to bring back to his home in South Carolina and is known for officially introducing the poinsettia to the United States. A man named William Prescott, who was given the task of giving Euphorbia pulcherrima a new name had been working on a history of Poinsett and assigned the plant the new name of "Poinsettia".

4. This plant is very popular around Christmas as the flowers are said to represent the star that guided the wise men to the baby Jesus. The color red also symbolizes the blood sacrifice of the crucifixion of Jesus. Today, the flower is known in Mexico and Guatemala as "La Flor de la Nochebuena" (or "The Flower of Christmas Eve").

5. In Spain, poinsettias are used as an Easter flower as opposed to the popular use as a Christmas flower elsewhere.

6. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are only mildly toxic, meaning children and pets would have to eat a lot of poinsettias before dying. A study at Ohio State University shows that you'd have to eat 500-600 leaves before the side effect would be death. That being said, eating them would still cause an upset stomach an vomiting and apparently they don't taste very good anyway, so why you'd want to even try them is beyond me.

(I find this picture hilarious. He's so grumpy!)

7. Poinsettias are mostly grown in California and their sale contributes more than $250 million to the US economy at the retail level.


So now that you all have a few interesting facts to impress your family and friends this season, I'll be signing off for a while to enjoy Christmas with my family here in Minneapolis. My family surprised me by coming down from Michigan a day early and we got to my grandmas to find all the decorations up (as you can see below). So I wish you all a very Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas and a very festive New Year. :)

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