Close your eyes and think of the word ‘Christmas’ – what comes to mind? The mental image will probably be two things – vivid and happy. It’s a time for family gatherings – children opening presents around the tree, winter walks through the snow, games and TV by the fire. It’s a time for eating, drinking and the proverbial merriment.
Yes, the joyful Christmassy sights and sounds are part and parcel of the time of year, however it’s often the smells that announce themselves before anything else. The fragrances we associate with the festive season are guaranteed, perhaps more than anything else, to re-awaken that part of the mental filling system labelled ‘Christmas Cheer’.
Now imagine yourself enjoying the hustle and bustle of a Christmas market – the recent imports from northern Europe that have lately become a permanent fixture in our towns. The tempting aromas of bratwursts, dutch pancakes, and flammkucken waft over the melee and with it the heady smell of red wine with orange, anise and cinnamon. A distinctive combination that can only mean one thing – mulled wine.
On arriving back home and unwrapping layers of winter clothing, yet more inviting aromas come from the direction of the kitchen. Mince pies are baking in the oven, tickling the taste buds in anticipation of the feast to come. The supremely appetising smells of roast potatoes, parsnips, gravy, cranberry sauce and, of course, turkey fill the air. They revive memories of all the shared times around the table, like the Ghost of Christmas Past – in fragrance form!
From the deserts and puddings on the festive table, to the waist-expanding sweets and treats that get passed around, there are also certain spices that are redolent of Christmas. Nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, orange, amber and patchouli add their aromas to the festive mix, in fact it would come as a surprise if Santa’s aftershave didn’t include a couple of these!
Yule traditions include bedecking the home with a little bit of natural greenery – an ancient custom reminding us of the springtime to come. When bringing these totems – the tree, holly, ivy – into the house we are also bringing the welcome botanical fragrances associated with them.
Many people have artificial Christmas Trees these days, and many of them simulate the real thing with great authenticity. However one crucial thing is lacking the – the room-filling scent of pine. It’s no wonder that many room sprays and scented candles try to emulate the smell. For many people it is THE Christmas fragrance with the nostalgic power to send the mind hurtling back, with blissfully happy childhood memories – back, even, to a personal First Noel!
Sometimes it’s good to shift the focus slightly away from the more indulgent aspects of Christmas – things that can get overlooked – family, togetherness and kindness. Creating a welcoming ambiance in the home goes hand-in-hand with these, and way the home smells can add that final piece of the jigsaw in creating a memorable Christmas for you and your family.