Guatemalan Christmas Colors: Poinsettia Red

Christmas Colors: Poinsettia Red

Pascuas (Guatemala) and Flor de Noche Buena (Mexico) are how poinsettias are known in Spanish. Poinsettias are native to Guatemala and Mexico and in general can be found in the wild or in gardens as undocumented aliens.

Pascuas are in full bloom in The Land of the Eternal Spring from late October through March. The most common color is red, but now you can find yellow, white, pink and mixed at your local nursery and shops. Pascuas are an integral part of the Guatemalan decoration for the Christmas season and beyond. They are also given as present quite often.

The crimson of poinsettias is now an integral part of the Guatemalan Christmas rainbow. Pascuas are often found in businesses and homes along with pine needle as Christmas decorations. According to industry statistics, Guatemala is the top grower of poinsettias in the world. Guatemala produces 60 million poinsettias which represents 80% of the production in the world (source: Prensa Libre).

In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl meaning “skin flower.” The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.

The plants’ association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young 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. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Christmas season in Guatemala brings along a complete feast to the senses; especially aromas, colors and flavors. Which sense do you prefer I focus on for the upcoming entries?

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