Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scented Tradition

THOUGH originally used year-round, over the centuries pomanders have become associated with Christmas. They are natural air fresheners usually made from oranges, lemons or apples studded with cloves. Pomanders may be hung as an aromatic decoration, grouped in a large bowl as a beautiful display or placed in laundry cupboards or drawers to scent your clothes.

We took a delicious fresh orange and placed masking tape where we would later put a ribbon. Then using a needle, we poked holes in the non-masked sections of orange and inserted whole cloves into the holes. As usual, I started out with an adult viewpoint of beauty and neatness but quickly relaxed to enjoy the activity and appreciate a different kind of beauty in the fascination, creativity and delight of my young children. Emma insisted we were making a hedgehog, which of course had to have a face! The pomander was finished by replacing tape with red ribbon. It has a wonderful spicy-citrusy fragrance!

Over several weeks, the pomander will cure dry and shrink to about half its size. You can also coat the completed pomander in a mixture of orris root and spices, which helps the drying and preservation process. Done correctly, it will last many years. The name comes from the French 'pomme d'amber' (amber apple). In the middle ages, pomanders containing many different scents, such as ambergris or musk, were worn on a chain around the neck or belt and carried as protection against infection and bad smells. Hopefully that won't be necessary in our home this Christmas!

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