The Daily Valet. - 12/8/23, Friday

✔️ What's Up With This Tradition?

The Daily Valet.
The Daily Valet.

Friday, December 8th Edition

Cory Ohlendorf

By Cory Ohlendorf, Valet. Editor

If this week was as long for you as it was for me, let’s celebrate the fact that we made it to Friday. Have a great weekend.

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Today’s Big Story

What’s the Deal With Poinsettias?

How did they become the Christmas Flower? And You Won’t believe just how big a business it is.


Have you been noticing all the holiday decorations lately? They seem to have really popped this week and if you're like me, you might've seen a whole lot of poinsettias already. They're everywhere. But where did those big flowers come from? And how did they become the Christmas flower? I needed answers.Turns out, the poinsettia didn't arrive in the United States until the 19th century. The plant is now named for the first U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Dr. Joel Roberts Poinsett, who introduced America to the poinsettia in 1828, after discovering it in the wilderness in southern Mexico. Aztecs in the 14th century called the plant cuetlaxóchitl, which roughly means “leathered flower”. They used it for warrior rituals and dyes, and the latex sap helped to treat wounds and break fevers. Other Mesoamerican civilizations, the Maya, for example, called it k'alul wits, which roughly translates to “fire flower.” It wasn't until the first Spanish settlers arrived in Mexico in the 16th century that the plant was specifically linked to the Christmas season. Colonizers used what they eventually called flor de nochebuena, or Christmas Eve flower, to decorate nativity scenes to mark Christmas and attract people to the faith.The plant was first successfully grown outside its Mexican homeland at the Philadelphia Botanic Garden when a sample arrived from Ambassador Poinsett in the mid-1800s. The Botanic Garden debuted the plant in the U.S. at an 1829 flower show and a year later, the Ecke family—German immigrants who settled in the Bay area—actually patented it after the 1930 Plant Patent Act was passed. The family made the plant smaller, before mass-marketing it as a “California Christmas flower.” The Ecke family's patent is one of many for poinsettia varieties that remain in place today. What exactly does a poinsettia have to do with Christmas? One interpretation of the plant is as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. Another is tied to Mexican legend that tells of a girl who could only offer weeds as a gift to Jesus on Christmas Eve. When she brought the weeds into a church, they blossomed into the beautiful red plants (and why the plants only bloom during this time of year). In any case, they've only gotten more popular. The poinsettia is now one of the best-selling flowers worldwide (despite only really being sold for two months during the year). In the U.S. alone, the market grew to $213.7 million in sales last year, according to the USDA. That's a 40% increase from 2020. Not bad for an unusual and mildly toxic plant, right?


The poinsettia plant is often considered deadly. That's wrong, according to Poison Control. The leaves can be irritating but it's not fatal if eaten.

Hanukkah Celebrations Are Tempered by War

Jews mark the first night of Hanukkah as Israel-Hamas war hits two-month mark

Last night marked the start of Hanukkah. The week-long holiday commemorates the Maccabee myth, which tells the story of a family of rebels who successfully led a revolt against an oppressive, anti-Jewish Greek rule. This year, the Festival of Lights is happening as the Israel-Hamas war continues to rage on. It also came two months to the date of the horrendous attacks in Israel that killed at least 1,200 people and took hundreds hostage. The Associated Press estimates 16,200 Palestinians have been killed so far as a result of the conflict.CNN asked Jews in the U.S. and around the world how the war was affecting their lives and whether rising antisemitism was changing the way they planned to celebrate Hanukkah this year. Hundreds responded, sharing deeply personal reflections on their lives, fears they're facing and how the situation is shaping their celebration this year. Some want to go all out in a show of solidarity while others are too afraid of drawing unwanted attention. The U.S. has seen a rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents since the attacks.NPR reports that the Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C. will celebrate Hanukkah this year just as vibrant as any other year, but with a greater emphasis on peace and healing. Across the country in Los Angeles, another congregation is focused on standing strong. And in Tel Aviv, locales took part in a solemn candle-lighting ceremony in the heart of the city. One hundred and thirty eight candles were lit in “hostage square” for each person still being held by Hamas.

Dig Deeper:

National Geographic looks at the history and traditions of Hanukkah and how an anciet revolt led to this yearly festival. 


You probably don’t know. But you could. And there’s something you can do to beef it up, too.

A Legal and Political Collision for Candidates

you thought 2016 and 2020 got Ugly and complicated? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

Like it or not, we're probably going to see a rematch of Biden vs. Trump in the 2024 presidential election. And during the prime campaign season, both candidates will likely have to deal with legal matters in between speeches and fundraisers. Donald Trump could very likely become the first former president in U.S. history to sit through a trial as a criminal defendant.The trial, based on charges that Trump conspired to overturn the 2020 election, is scheduled to start in early March. However, his lawyers filed a motion on Thursday seeking to pause proceedings. The former president has argued that presidential immunity shields him from prosecution for actions that were performed in the “outer perimeter” of his official duties, as a basis for the case to be dismissed. U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected that argument, saying that the presidency “does not confer a lifelong 'get-out-of-jail-free' pass.” But how (and when) the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the Supreme Court handle this new appeal could have a huge impact on whether Trump goes on trial before voters go to the polls in 2024, or ever.Also on Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a second indictment against President Biden's son Hunter—this time on tax charges, as the continuing fallout from a collapsed plea deal this summer means the younger Biden could go on trial twice next year while his father runs for reelection. According to the special counsel's team, Hunter “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million” in taxes that he owed from 2016 through 2019. That means President Biden will be campaigning for a second White House term and fighting a Republican impeachment bid while his son fights to avoid up to 17 years in prison in two criminal cases.

Krispy Kreme Comes to France

The latest advance in a decades-long invasion by U.S. fast food in the land of Proper cafes and Michelin chefs

Sacré bleu! Who would've thought that the haughty citizens of Paris would clamour to get their delicate hands on a big, glazed donut from Krispy Kreme? I certainly wouldn't imagine them donning a paper hat in solidarity with the brand. Well, it wasn't the first time I was wrong and it won't be the last. Because the all-American donut chain opened its first French store this week, and people waited in line all night to be the first through the door.I guess the appeal of a warm donut fresh from the waterfall of glaze is a siren call to anyone—no matter your nationality or proclivity for fine dining. And apparently, the world's gastronomic capital is now one of the biggest markets in Europe for major American fast-food chains. According to the New York Times, in the spring, Popeye's drew huge crowds in Paris when it opened the first of 350 restaurants planned across France. Wendy's has announced plans to set up shop in France, too. Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Domino's, Chipotle and Five Guys have long had toeholds, but they are rapidly expanding their footprints with plans for hundreds of new locations across the country. And after the United States, France is McDonald's most profitable country.Doughnuts are still little known in France compared to other pastries. So it makes sense Krispy Kreme wants in on it. After all, they're on a roll. Last year, they sold 1.63 billion donuts—the most they've ever sold in a single year. And the chain now operates in more than 30 countries, with over 1,940 total stores around the world, after adding about 125 new locations over the past year.


Forget the Cronut. A new generation of Parisian bakers is giving the donut a French haute twist.

In Other News

Dog respiratory disease

An unidentified canine illness continues to pop up around the United States.

Have you heard about ...

A Weekend Pairing

‘Leave the World Behind’ + a Single Malt Scotch

Sometimes it can be nice, or at least cathartic, to see a movie that says we're right to worry. That all those things we stress about, with mounting apocalyptic dread, are, in fact, looming on the horizon. And Leave the World Behind, streaming now on Netflix, is one such film. Adapted from Rumaan Alam's acclaimed novel, the movie is set against an end-of-days disaster in which technology—Wi-Fi, TV or phones—has gone silent due to a cyberattack and there's been a massive blackout.Director Sam Esmail's star-driven adaptation, starring Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke and Mahershala Ali swirls with race and class divides. And for a big budget Netflix film, which aren't always beloved by critics, this is getting a lot of love. It's been called the “ultimate apocalypse-Karen movie” and a “good kind of grim.” Perhaps by seeing how bad things could really get, it will help us appreciate all that we have right now. And in that way, this almost makes this a feel-good holiday film, right?

Pair It With

Tomatin scotch

What can you pair with a film like this? Seems like to me the only rational drink would be Scotch—neat, or maybe on the rocks. But enjoyed solo, in order to make it somewhat medicinal. This one (with a nice spiced honey finish) comes from an often-overlooked distillery that has been producing Scotch for more than a century.

Also Worth a Watch:

Coach Prime: Season 2’ on Prime Video; ‘The Bling Ring’ on Hulu


Personalized Diamond Jewelry

Michelle Wie West x Wove

Custom initial necklace, from $1,170 by Wove

LPGA golf star, Michelle Wie West, partnered with custom jeweler, Wove, to create the Ho'omau bracelet to raise money for Maui wildfire relief (with 100% of profits going to the Hawaii Community Foundation). That collaboration was so successful, they’ve teamed up again on a limited-edition customizable diamond jewelry collection of timeless, yet approachable jewelry. You choose your metal and then customize the beads to make a personalized and meaningful modern heirloom.

Ho'omau bracelet, from $250

Get It:

Morning Motto

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