We had a snow day today, so I was able to do more Christmas preparation than usual. At the grocery store, we bought oranges and cloves so that I could make some clove orange pomanders to celebrate the season.
Clove orange pomanders have a long history back to the Middle Ages, when people carried pomanders made of silver, gold, wood, or other material, enclosing a mixture of spices, the scent of which would ward off unhealthy odors and illness. A woman might wear this item on her waist, suspended by a chain. There’s an excellent website that illustrates types of pomanders during the Medieval and Renaissance periods.
By Jane Austen’s time and during the Victorian Era, exchanging clove oranges became customary during Christmas and the New Year. This website discusses the historical significance and gives excellent directions for making them at home.
The Wartski family firm in London sells fine jewelry and objets d’art. They have several beautiful examples of pomanders, including a silver segmented one that is so beautiful (and, probably, so valuable). This 1547 painting is featured on an antique jewelry website. I wonder if I could begin a collection of pomanders–I should stick to oranges (although cloves can be an expensive purchase).
A word of caution. My oranges need ribbon and more cloves. I think I should have used smaller oranges with rinds that were not quite as thick. I wound up with Band-aids on both thumbs because whole cloves are sharp, and it takes a little effort to pierce the rind of the orange. Also, if I had used ribbon first, I would have had a natural line to follow. My patterns leave a lot to be desired.
One year L’Occitane en Provence sold a clove-orange scent in candles, lotions and hand cream. It must have been a holiday scent because I was given the shea cream as a gift, and when I went to the store to buy more, the scent was discontinued. If you know of somewhere else that sells this particular scent, let me know! For me, the smell of clove oranges and Christmas are tied together.