11 | DIC | 2019
Cuetlaxóchitl, Nochebuena, or Poinsettia?
Nochebuenas - Photo: Sofía Danis/EL UNIVERSAL in English

Cuetlaxóchitl, Nochebuena, or Poinsettia?

Mexico City
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History behind Nochebuena

Dark green leaves with jagged edges and red, yellow, white and marbled petals, Cuetlaxóchitl, Nochebuena, or Poinsettia, is a flower of pre-Hispanic heritage and it is among the Christmas most popular symbols.

Discovered in Mexico in 1834, the red flower was originally named Cuetlaxóchitl in Nahuatl meaning "flower that withers."

The Aztecs used this plant in both celebrations and rituals as a symbol of the purity and the new life of the warriors, and they even used the flower to create reddish tints for fabrics and as a traditional medicine.

In colonial times, the Spaniards named the flower Nochebuena, due to its appearance in December, according to information from the Agency of Services for Marketing and Agricultural Markets Development (Aserca).

From the seventeenth century, it became a symbol of the holidays, but the tradition of decorating houses with this beautiful flower comes from the Anglo-Saxon countries.

In 1828, the doctor, botanist and US ambassador to Mexico, Joel Robert Poinsett impressed by its beauty, took some samples to his country, according to data from Flor de Nochebuena: La Tradición que Adorna Nuestra Navidad (Nochebuena Flower: Tradition decorating our Christmas) published in 2013.

However, it was not until 1909 when Albert Ecke's family began to cultivate the flower in California that its cultivation, development and genetic improvement was encouraged, which led the Ecke family to patent the flower with the name of Poinsettia.

Information from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) indicates that for almost 100 years, the family produced several varieties of the flower, with a great diversity of colors and foliage, and with each new variety, the family acquired the patents of plants.

However, history proves that the Poinsettia is native to Mexico.

According to information from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Sagarpa) Morelos, Michoacán, Mexico City, Puebla, State of Mexico Jalisco, Veracruz, Querátaro, Guanajuato, Chiapas, and Guerrero are the main producers of Nochebuena in the country, and the most popular varieties are Freedom, La Subjidi, Joy Pink and White Red Angel, but currently there are around 100 varieties of poinsettia registered.


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