Helleborus niger was valued as a medicinal plant long before it became associated with Christmas. The first mention comes from 900 B.C. when her discovery was attributed to a shepherd. He used it first with restless, agitated animals and then a neighbor who was considered insane. The king of Argus heard of the cure and contacted him to heal his three daughters, all convinced that they were cows. The shepherd's treatment was successful and his reward was marriage to the youngest princess. You can't make this stuff up!
The association with Christmas came from another shepherd, a young girl named Madelon. It was a cold and bitter night when three wise men following a star passed by her watch. They told her of the wondrous birth and she followed them to the manger. When they arrived, all had gifts for the baby Jesus - frankincense, myrrh, gold, honey, fruits and herbs. She had nothing to give him and began to cry. An angel appeared and asked her why she was so unhappy. She explained that she had no gift for the new born King. The angel took pity on her and turned each of her tears into a beautiful white flower edged in pink. Madelon was over joyed as she presented her gift of the Christmas Rose to the tiny baby.
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