Make Kerststers (Christmas Stars)
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
The poinsettia originated in Mexico. Yet, it is famous all over the world as a Christmas plant. In the Netherlands, the poinsettia is called a Kerstster, or Christmas Star or Star of Bethlehem. The shape of the flower and leaves are thought of as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. There are many varieties of poinsettias. The red leaves are likened to the blood of Christ, while the white ones as representative of His purity.
Kerststers are an essential part of Christmas in the Netherlands. But how did this plant, native to Mexico become a part of the Dutch Christmas tradition?
Well, it all began with the Aztecs. When the Aztecs lived in Mexico between the 14th and 16th century, they called the poinsettia plant Cuetlaxochitl, which means ‘leather flower.’ It was used to adorn temples, and seen as a symbol of life for fallen warriors. It was used for healing and for red dye. It is believed that the Cuetlaxochitl was the famed ruler Montezuma's favorite flower. Aztec legend held that the bracts (upper leaves) were colored by the blood of an Aztec goddess who died of a broken heart.
Because of this legend, the French call it Étoile d'Amour, or 'Love Stars.' After Mexico's conquest by the Spaniards, and the collapse of the Aztec culture, the flower became known as Flores de Noche Buena-- Flower of the Holy Night. It is the country's official Christmas flower. Centuries later, in 1804, naturalist [and founder of Humboldt University in Berlin] Alexander von Humboldt brought it to Berlin. The plant was thereby introduced to Europe as he catalogued it's new name: Euphorbia pulcherrima. As the Dutch are famous for (and a world leader in) horticulture, it is no surprise that they embraced the poinsettia as part of their Christmas tradition.
In 1824, the American ambassador in Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, brought the flower to the US. The plant was named the 'poinsettia' in his honor.
Make Clothespin Kerststers
8 wood clothespins for each kerstster
hot glue gun
White paint (optional)
String or twine to hang each snowflake
Remove spring from each clothespin. Each clothespin will provide two wooden pieces, align the flat sides of the two pieces and hot glue them together.
Next, take two of the glued pieces and hot glue them together along the small angle end. Do this with two more pieces and creating an ‘x’ shape made up of four clothespins.
Insert another glued clothespin between each of the clothespins that make up the ‘x’, creating a kerstster.
Glue or thread the string through the center of the kerstster. If desired, paint kerststers and decorate with glitter. Let them dry thoroughly, then hang them on the tree, from a doorway or the ceiling.
Watch the following video for added inspiration: