Recently, I walked through a nursery and saw some of the plants we associate with Christmas. I started remembering other plants I had been told about during past Holiday Seasons.
The original plants of Christmas were frankincense and myrrh, plants grow in Africa, Asia, and Arabia. The plants bruise easily and the slightest cut will cause drops of the fragrance resin to form. The hardened resin has been used for thousands of years in perfumes, medicines, fumigants, as well as in embalming. These resins were so highly prized they ranked with gold in value. When the magi brought gifts to the Christ child, they brought gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Some plants were not originally associated with Christmas, but later became a part of the season. Some claim Martin Luther brought in the Christmas tree. While people in northern climates used the tree as a sign of immortality, Martin Luther added the decorations to celebrate Christmas.
The Christmas rose isn't a rose. According to legend, a young girl wept because she had no flowers to take to the Christ child. Her tears fell to the ground and were transformed into beautiful flowers. The Christmas rose is actually a plant in the buttercup family that grows only in Europe. It is not likely to have been known in the Holy Land at the time of Christ's birth, however, a red-flowered plant is believed to be the lily of the field which Solomon's splendid garments did not surpass.
Mistletoe became popular at holiday parties as Christianity spread into Europe. In the early days, mistletoe was rivaled by the onion, and was sacred to St. Thomas. At parties, a merry fellow representing St. Thomas would dance and give each girl an onion. The girls would cut their onions into quarters, each whispering the name of the man she hoped would propose marriage. Each girl would wave the onion over her head and would recite the verse: "Good St. Thomas, do me right and send my true love to me tonight, that I may see him face to face, and him my kind arms embrace."
An onion hanging in the room was supposed to draw off the ills of the party.
The poinsettia is the most popular of all Christmas plants in the US and is related to an Aztec legend of love between a young woman and man of unequal social status. The plant puts on a beautiful show, providing color to otherwise drab interiors. It is no wonder it has become the best choice for a gift plants.
While many of the previous stories are legend, it is fun to sit around together, have a cup of hot chocolate and pass the stories on to others as we celebrate this wonderful time of year.
Forbearance - withholding a response to provocation.
Example: I admire your forbearance after that drunk called you all manner of insults.