Arts & Entertainment

Poinsettias still provide Christmas cheer in Mexican homes amid pandemic

By Miquel Muñoz

Mexico City, Dec 7 (efe-epa).- Known in Mexico as the Christmas Eve Flower, poinsettias are still the favored bloom in Mexican homes this holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With a long pre-Hispanic heritage, the deep red petals of the flower are well-known the world over and this year represent the hope of a 2021 with better news.

“It’s a flower that normally is not there during the year, it doesn’t grow, and it certainly gives the final touch each year with its red color,” Veronica Castilla, holding an armful of the plants she had just bought, told EFE.

Castilla is one of the millions of Mexicans who, despite the pandemic, is not giving up on the holidays or on her poinsettias, which the Aztecs used in celebrations and rituals.

The sale of poinsettias in December is one of the most important economic activities of the year for thousands of producers around the country, who for the season have raised and prepared more than 16 million of the plants, according to figures from the Agriculture Secretariat.

However, the peasants, who often sell the plants they raise themselves, admit that due to the Covid-19 pandemic sales are not as good as in the past.

“The sale of poinsettias is not like we had hoped it would be, like last year,” said Rafael Moreno, a young producer from Michoacan who, along with his family, sells the flowers in Mexico City’s Palacio de la Flor market.

Moreno said that this year not even “a third” of their pickup truck could be loaded with flowers to bring from the fields to the market due to the scanty orders.

“We’re going to lose a lot (of product) because like with marigolds, the season for which is already past, some people planted 200,000 of them and they were left with half. That’s the profit, since nothing is left for us,” he said.

The process of producing the poinsetties, producer and businesswomen Guadalupe Reyes said, lasts “eight months” and its most intense sales season runs from early to mid-December, when “they sell like hotcakes” and most Mexican families use them to decorate their homes.

Reyes’ production this year is between 4,000 and 5,000 plants, the amount she hopes to sell despite a weak start, since it’s something that almost everyone can afford.

“I think that (everyone) can have a plant because the costs range from 15 pesos to 120 pesos ($0.75 to $6),” she said.

In Mexico City alone more than 3.6 million poinsettias were grown, according to the Agriculture Secretariat, and the region is one of the biggest production areas along with the central states of Puebla and Morelos, and western Michoacan.

Blanca Rodriguez says that, although the authorities have called on the public not to gather during the holiday season to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, “beautiful” poinsettias have always decorated her home and brought her joy, and she’s hoping that this year they will do the same, despite the semi-lockdown.

Mexico has suffered almost 1.2 million confirmed coronavirus cases so far, along with 109,717 deaths.


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