Winter holidays bring traditions from at least half a dozen world cultures, blended over the centuries. Here are a few reasons some herbal allies have a place in our homes this time of year.
The word perfume has its roots in the Latin "per," meaning "through" and "fumum," meaning, "smoke." Throughout history, people have burned pleasant smelling herbs, sending their prayers heavenward and thus gaining attention of the deities.
Burning frankincense and myrrh resins helped purify the air: thus, when burned in public places of worship, they would help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
A Nordic legend that tells of Balder, the son of Frigga (goddess of love), who was protected from harm, mistletoe being the only thing that might harm him. An arrow from mistletoe was made and Balder was mortally wounded. So grieved was Frigga, when her tears fell on the mistletoe they were transformed into the white berries, thus mistletoe became regarded as a symbol of peace and was hung high. Whoever should kiss under the plant would receive a blessing and if enemies met under the plant, they must lay down their arms and keep a truce for the entire day. Tradition dictates that with each kiss under the mistletoe, a berry is removed. The plant can be toxic if consumed, so keep away from children and pets.
For centuries, The Church discouraged the decorating of trees because of its Pagan origins. In 1643, the British Parliament abolished all Christmas festivities. However, when Queen Victoria decorated a fir tree for Windsor castle in 1841, the acceptance for this tradition was gained.
When we bring these colorful members of the Plant Kingdom into our homes to give grace and beauty they are a reminder of our connection with nature.
What are some of your favorite herbal holiday traditions?
Brigitte Mars, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, is a nutritional consultant who has been working with Natural Medicine for over forty years. She teaches Herbal Medicine at Naropa University, Omega, Boulder College of Massage, and Bauman Holistic College of Nutrition. She has a weekly local radio show called "Naturally" on KGNU and a private practice. Brigitte is the author of twelve books, including The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine, Beauty by Nature, Addiction Free Naturally, Healing Herbal Teas, and Rawsome!. Click here for more healthy living articles, raw food recipes, videos, workshops, books, and more at www.brigittemars.com"
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