Posted by: marinvit | 2009

Chrysanthemum Legend (part 2)

There is only one place in Japan, according to legend, where the chrysanthemum is not grown. Long ago in the city of Himeji, a nobleman lived in a large castle with many treasures.

Kaifeng Chrysanthemum

Trusting no one, he allowed only his serving maid O-kiku, whose name means chrysanthemum, to handle and dust his possessions. One day she discovered one of his ten precious plates was missing. Not being able to find it, and fearing she would be blamed, she drowned herself in the well.

Every night her ghost would come up to count the plates. Her repeated screeching upon finding one missing drove the nobleman out of the castle, which then fell into ruin. The people of Himeji, delighted by his departure, thereafter refused to grow the chrysanthemum in honor of O-kiku.

The word “chrysanthemum” comes from the Greek words meaning “golden flower,” but a German legend refers to another of the many colors of chrysanthemums.

One cold, snowy Christmas Eve in Germany’s Black Forest, a peasant family was sitting down to a meager supper when they heard a wailing. At first they thought it was the wind. But upon hearing the sound repeatedly, they opened the door and found a beggar.

They ushered in the poor man who was blue with cold, wrapped him in blankets, and shared their food. Instantly, the blankets were shed, revealing a man in shining white clothing with a halo around his head. Proclaiming himself the Christ Child he fled. The next morning, outside the door where he had stood, were two white chrysanthemums.

Today, many Germans bring white chrysanthemums into their homes on Christmas Eve, believing that by doing so they are sheltering the Christ Child. So when you see chrysanthemums in gardens this fall, think of these rich legends from other cultures. And mark your calendar now to remind yourself to buy some white chrysanthemum cut flowers or a potted plant this Christmas season.

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