De­cem­ber Pon­der­ings

Catron Courier - - News - By Wilma Stan­ton, Master Gar­dener

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.

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