Euphorbia Pulcherrima, better known as Poinsettia, but also called Christmas Star in Italy, is a wild plant with Mexican origin, where it reaches up to four meters in height. In 1825, Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, brought this plant to the United States, where it took the name Poinsettia and became a must for the Christmas season.
The beauty of this plant is undoubtedly its flowering: the flower, called cyathium, has yellow petals surrounded by a crown of five red bracts arranged in the shape of a cup. Inside the trunk and the branches there is a milky substance that is slightly irritating to the skin and highly toxic for dogs and cats.
Undoubtedly the colors of this plant are most appropriate for the Christmas period, but this is not the only reason why it is given as a gift and is seen so often around Christmas. There are in fact several legends associated with it. One of these is that for the Aztecs and Indians it was a symbol of purity: the deep red color was a reminiscent of the drops of blood of a goddess who, according to legend, died for love.
A Mexican legend, the most famous one, says that on Christmas Eve, several centuries ago, a very poor little girl was trying to show Jesus her love, but did not have the means to do so. So, at the church, a voice told her to go out and collect a bundle of brushwood and herbs, which placed on the altar, they turned into wonderful small red stars.
Love is therefore the key to this plant, so much so that in France it is called Étoile d’Amour, namely Star of Love, and it is also very popular for Mother’s Day, while in Central America it is called Hoja Encendida (Burning Leaf) and symbolizes Passion.
In Italy, the Poinsettia has only been around since a couple of centuries, since when it was used to decorate the Basilica of San Pietro.
At the AbanoRitz, to keep the theme of Love, the White Gloves restaurant gets colored in red with hundreds of red Poinsettias of all sizes, for a warm Family Christmas.