Christmas is one of the most popularly celebrated festivals around the world and is observed in really lot ways and, as any other holiday, it is also associated with lots of stories, symbols and legends, including the legend of sage plant, a story that has been associated with Christmas since times unknown. Known for its caring and helpful nature, sage plant is said to have protected Mother Mary and Baby Jesus from Herod, a merciless king who was on a killing spree.
King Herod was outraged when he heard that the ancient prophecy of birth of the Messiah and future king of the Jews in his country. Since he didn’t knew where to find Baby Jesus to kill him, the cruel dictator ordered his soldiers to find out and kill all the children under the age of two, so that he could be safe from his would-be enemy. However, angels had already warned Joseph in his dream about the forthcoming fact and he rushed off with Mary and Baby Jesus from Bethlehem to cross the borders of the kingdom of Judea and escape to Egypt. The distance was long and people were so afraid of the strangers that none came out to help them or offer them shelter or water.
Although Joseph and Mary managed to escape Herod’s army, the journey was tiresome and their strength started waning. Their donkey was thirsty as well and baby needed to be nursed. Thus, they halted on the roadside where Mary nursed the Holy Child while Joseph went to the nearest village to get some water for them. Suddenly, Mary heard shouts and cries and the approaching noise of the horses’ hooves. Her heart trembled with fear, as she knew that if Herod’s soldiers caught her, they would cut the throat of the baby mercilessly. There was not a cave or a tree nearby, where she could hide. Yet, she was desperate for a refuge.
Seeing a rose bush in bloom nearby, Mary requested her for a place to hide but it proudly refused to offer her any help, as then it would be in danger of being crushed by the soldiers. It is believed that the rose plant started bearing thorns since then.
Mother Mary then turned to the clove bush for refuge but to no avail as the plant was too busy blooming, and it is said that since then, the clove plant has been blooming flowers that give out a bad scent. The only bush that remained was the sage plant, that was very kind and offered to help mother Mary. It quickly blossomed and created a shelter for the mother and the child. On the road, the soldiers passed by without seeing a thing. At the sound of their steps, Mary shivered in terror but the baby, caressed by the leaves, smiled. Then, as suddenly as they had come, they were gone.
And so Mary, in her gratitude, thanked and blessed the plant saying, “Sage, oh holy sage, many thanks. I bless you for your good deed which everyone will henceforth remember”. Since then, the sage plant has been revered for its healing powers and it is a common ingredient in Christmas stuffing.
And as the Provencal saying goes:
«Whosoever uses not sage
Remembers not the Virgin.»