The Poinsettia was introduced from Mexico in the early 1800s by Joel Roberts Poinsett. Franciscan friars had been using them in their Christmas decorations. The star-shaped leaf of the plant was said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The red leaves (yes, they are leaves) represented the blood of Jesus. Legends had arisen of a young girl involved with miracles occurring with the plant. Long before that the Aztecs had used them to make dyes and medication. They also used them in their human-sacrifice rituals, the leaves being a reminder of those who were sacrificed. Interesting to ponder that this symbol of Christmas was once part of such a terrible tradition from long centuries ago. Though, ironically, we still make the blood association. The plant’s supposed poison qualities, however, are a myth (doesn’t mean it’s edible, however).
The Aztec Christmas Flower