Culture

Here’s The Indigenous Origin Of The Holiday’s Iconic Poinsettia Flower

Poinsettias are an iconic part of almost every Christmas display. The red and green foliage mixes in perfectly with the Christmas color scheme lending itself to the iconic status of Christmas plant. The plant is indigenous to Mexico and its history is long and important.

The poinsettia plant has a place in indigenous Mexican celebration.

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The poinsettia, also known as cuetlaxochitl in Nahuatl, has long been a part of Aztec and Mexican cultures. The plant was known as noche buena and was used in various ways from cooking to medicine to celebrations. The biggest celebration was the celebration of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war, the sun, and human sacrifice.

The red flower came to represent the blood shed in war and in human sacrifice for Huitzilopochtli.

The Huitzilopochtli celebration is the winter solstice. After colonization, Catholics imported Christmas and replaced the celebration of Huitzilopochtli after converting the native populations. They continued to use the poinsettias to decorate for the celebration, a tradition that stuck.

The poinsettia had medicinal properties back in the day.

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Noche buenas offered indigenous communities a medicine for several ailments. According to the TikTok, the poinsettia was beneficial for women when it came to lactating and with their menstrual cramps. Other uses for the plant included dyes and textiles. The flower, of course, was grown for its beauty.

Over the years, the poinsettia has been bred, stored, and harvested for its beauty, not its medicinal properties. Instead, the plant, which is as important to Christmas as the Christmas tree, has become harvested strictly for its beauty around the holiday season.

The poinsettia has multiple origin stories.

One of the stories is about a young girl in Olinalá, Guerrero. The legend says that a young girl had nothing to offer baby Jesus other than some weeds. In her desperation an angel visited her. She was told to take the weeds to the church and present them to the baby Jesus. The girl was sad and embarrassed and began to cry. When her tears hit the weeds, beautiful red flowers started to bloom from them. These were the first noche buenas.

Mexico is crucial in supplying the plant for the holiday season.

Mexico exports around 40 million poinsettias every year. The poinsettia has now been bred to include versions with pink, white, and blue leaves. The plant, native to southern Mexico and Central America, is just one piece of the holiday celebration and we have Mexico to thank for its important place in the holiday season.

READ: This App Can Tell You The Indigenous History Of The Land You Live On

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Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

Things That Matter

Mexican Politician Accused Of Rape Vows To Block Elections Unless He’s Allowed To Run

FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP via Getty Images

It’s an election year in Mexico and that means that things are heating up as candidates fight for the top spot. At the same time, Mexico is experiencing a burgeoning fight for women’s rights that demands accountability and justice. Despite all the marches and protests and civil disobedience by hundreds of thousands of Mexicans, it remains to be seen how much change will happen and when. 

Case in point: Félix Salgado, a candidate for governor of Guerrero who has been accused of rape and sexual assault but maintains the support of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO). Now, after being disqualified from the race because of undisclosed campaign finances, the candidate is vowing to block any elections from taking place unless he is allowed to continue his campaign. 

A disqualified candidate is vowing to block elections unless he’s allowed to run.

Félix Salgado was running to be governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero when he was faced with allegations of rape and sexual assault. The commission that selects party candidates allowed him to remain in the race and he continues to maintain the support of President AMLO – who is of the same political party, Morena. 

However, in late March, election regulators ordered that Salgado be taken off the ballot due to a failure to report campaign spending, according to the AP. Mexico’s electoral court ordered the Federal Electoral Institute (FEI) to reconsider their decision last week. Salgado is already threatening to throw the election process into chaos.

“If we are on the ballot, there will be elections,” Salgado told supporters in Guerrero after leading a caravan of protestors to the FEI’s office in Mexico City on Sunday. “If we are not on the ballot, there will not be any elections,” Salgado said.

The AP notes that Salgado is not making an empty threat. Guerrero is an embattled state overrun with violence and drug gangs and many elections have been previously disrupted. Past governors have been forced out of office before finishing their terms. Salgado was previously filmed getting into a confrontation with police in 2000.

It was just weeks ago that the ruling party allowed Salgado’s candidacy to move forward.

In mid-March, Morena confirmed that Félix Salgado would be its candidate for governor in Guerrero after completing a new selection process in which the former senator was reportedly pitted against four women.

Morena polled citizens in Guerrero last weekend to determine levels of support for five different possible candidates, according to media reports. Among the four women who were included in the process were Acapulco Mayor Adela Román and Senator Nestora Salgado.

Félix Salgado was the clear winner of the survey, even coming out on top when those polled were asked to opine on the potential candidates’ respect for the rights of women. He also prevailed in all other categories including honesty and knowledge of the municipality in which the poll respondents lived.

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Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

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Indigenous Purépecha Woman Gets Full Ride Scholarship To Attend Harvard

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In just a few months, college freshmen will be descending on their campuses across the country. One of these students is Elizabeth Esteban who is the first person from her indigenous tribe in Mexico to be accepted to an Ivy League school.

Elizabeth Esteban is going to Harvard and it is a major deal.

Esteban is a member of the Purépecha tribe, an indigenous community from Michoacán, Mexico. Esteban is the first member of her tribe to be accepted into an Ivy League university, where indigenous representation remains small. Esteban’s parents work as farm laborers in the eastern Coachella Valley in California.

“Well I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News.

Not only was Esteban accepted into Harvard, a prestigious university, she also received a full-ride scholarship. Esteban’s family is part of a community of hundreds of Purépecha people who relocated to the easter Coachella Valley in search of work and a better life.

Esteban plans to study political science.

Dr. Ruiz Speaks with State of the Union Guest, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School.

Join me for a live conversation with my guest for tonight's State of the Union, Elizabeth from Desert Mirage High School!

Posted by Congressman Raul Ruiz, MD on Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Esteban wants to make a difference in her community. As an indigenous woman, Esteban wants to break barriers that are set on women in her community. She told NBC News that her community expects for women to stay home and be stay-at-home mothers.

The incoming Harvard freshmen was discouraged from applying to Harvard at one point because of her community’s unreliable internet connection. Esteban lives in a mobile home with her family in Mecca and struggled to complete course work. The internet went down in the middle of her Harvard interview and it almost prevented her from applying to the university.

“Well, I felt proud and excited, every sort of emotion because I never would have believed that a person like me, would be accepted to a prestigious university,” Esteban told NBC News about being accepted to Harvard on a full scholarship.

READ: California, Harvard, MIT File Lawsuits To Challenge Government’s International Student Visa Announcement

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