“The Christmas Rose” is a sweet legend telling how the Christmas rose got its name. The story goes that on a dark cold night, Madelon, a shepherdess, saw a procession of Magi passing by her snow- covered field with their gift of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the Christ Child. Even the other shepherds heading to the stable took gifts of honey and fruits. Madelon longed to go and worship, too, but she had no gift to give. She searched the countryside for even a single flower to offer, but found none since the weather had been so cold and harsh. Finally she started crying and just then an angel passing over her over her saw her sadness, stopped, stopped down to the ground and brushed the snow. There, in the snow, sprung up a beautiful cluster of waxen white winter roses with pink tipped petals. The angel whispered to the girl that these flowers were more precious than any of the other gifts, because they were pure and made of love. Madelon gathered up an armful and hurried to the manger where Mary greets her with a smile.
I’ll grant you that the legend doesn’t really make any sense. It wouldn’t have been snowing in Bethlehem, first of all because it doesn’t often snow there. Beyond that, though, why would the sheep be out in the field or the country holding a census if it was cold and miserable. The Wise Men didn’t show up at the manger, they arrived later, when the family was living in a house and Jesus was no longer an infant, but that’s not the point. Love is matters more than riches, and we can all worship at Christ’s feet, not just the rich or important.
You can find several different versions of the story on-line, but none gave me an idea of when it was first told.
The Christmas Rose is not actually a rose. They are actually hellebores, flowering perennials native to Europe. They are particularly valued by gardeners for their winter and early spring flowering period; the plants are surprisingly frost-resistant and many are evergreen. They are so pretty. Somewhere, I also read that traditionally they are planted by the front door to invite Jesus in.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.