December 12th is Poinsettia Day. The date marks the death of Joel Roberts Poinsett, an American botanist, physician and Minister to Mexico who in 1828 sent cuttings of the plant he’d discovered in Southern Mexico to his home in Charleston, South Carolina. Botanically, the plant is known as Euphorbia.
Also associated with flowers and Mexico, December 12 is the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. According legend, Juan Diego saw an apparition of the maiden at the Hill of Tepeyac. Speaking in the native Nauatl, she asked that a church be built at the site in her honor. Diego recounted the events to the Archbishop who instructed him to go back to the Tepeyac Hill and ask for a sign. He did so and the virgin told him to gather flowers from the top of Tepeyac Hill where he found Castilian roses, not native to Mexico, blooming in December on the normally barren hilltop. He gathered the roses in his cloak and returned to the Archbishop. On December 12 when he opened the cloak, the flowers fell to the ground and on the fabric was the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites.
The original tilma (mantle) of Juan Diego hangs above the high altar in the Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City.
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