The Essence of Christmas Scents

As you celebrate the traditions of Christmas, don’t forget the comforting sense of scents. While smells are difficult to describe, they evoke instant recognition. Memories are often triggered by a whiff of some remembered aroma. Don’t we all recall some special person just from the scent of their favorite perfume?

Christmas has its own unique spectrum of scents and smells, many intimately tied to holidays past.

The sharp smell of fresh-cut pine.

A warm kitchen redolent with the aroma of cinnamon spice.

The flickering scent of bayberry candles.

Here’s my admittedly biased list of scents to share throughout the holiday season.

Bayberry is an evergreen plant similar to holly. Gray, wax-coated berries adorn these large shrubs in the fall. Early American settlers boiled the berries to extract the wax for candles. Bayberry burned cleaner and smelled much sweeter than tallow candles.

Cinnamon comes from the bark of an evergreen species grown extensively around the equatorial belt. It has a long history as a flavoring, scent and medicine. Moses was commanded by God to use cinnamon in anointing oils. Create your own simmering potpourri with cinnamon sticks and cloves.

Cloves are dried flower buds from an evergreen tree. Grown primarily in India and Indonesia, cloves have been used for cooking, cigarettes (outside the US), in medicines and for chai tea. One European tradition uses cloves and oranges to make pomander balls.

Myrrh is dried sap. It can be extracted from several tree species. It is used for incense, medicines, fragrant oils, perfumes and embalming. It can also be burned as potpourri. It is often combined with frankincense for seasonal candle scents.

Pines and other evergreens are an obvious sign of Christmas. These fragrant trees contribute their scent to candles, their cones for decorations, and their wood for furniture and pulp. Pine resin is used in making turpentine. In America, most evergreens are farm-raised for Christmas trees, wreaths and boughs.

Frankincense comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It is useful for perfumes, incense and aromatherapy to treat depression. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Used in ancient Egypt, It was found in the excavated tomb of King Tutankhamen.

Scent evokes a powerful reminder of past events and enhances present experiences. With candles and potpourri of Sugar Plum, Apple Cinnamon, Bayberry, Evergreen and Christmas Memories, your home can be wonderfully welcoming to the nose as well as the psyche.

May the beauty and smells of the holidays bring peace and happiness to your home and family.

God bless you and yours this Christmas season.

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