Greek Flowers Portal

flaglogo-gr.bmp (910 bytes)  

Unitedkingdom_sm.gif (528 bytes)  

Welcome To The Greek Flowers Portal

Home   Info   Contact   E-shop


Join Valentine mailing list!
Enter your email address below,
then click the 'Join List' button:




Herbs in Christmas tradition 

Herbs are intricately woven into Christmas tradition. Several are brought to us directly from the biblical Christmas tale itself. Myrrh and Frankincense were of course given to the infant Jesus by the Magi. Other herbs such as Sage, for immortality and domestic happiness; Lavender, a symbol of purity and virtue; horehound, representitive of giving good health; rue, as a symbol of grace and also banishes evil; thyme, a symbol of bravery; and costmary, also called bible leaf, represents everlasting life- all have also become associated with the holiday. But perhaps the best known herb associated with Christmas is rosemary.

Lets take a look to the most common Christmas herbs to find out more details about them. The three wise men in the story of Christmas carried gold, frankincense and myrrh. What are frankincense and myrrh?

Frankincense and myrrh are both resins -- dried tree sap -- that come from trees of the genus Boswellia (frankincense) and Commiphora (myrhh), which are common to Somalia and Oman. 


Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)

Frankincense was one of the gifts of the Magi. [Mt 2:11] Tradition says that it was presented to the Christ Child by Balthasar, the black king from Ethiopia or Saba, thus fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy that gold and frankincense would be brought from the Gentiles to honor the heavenly king. [Is 60:6] Frankincense was the purest incense. When burned it produced a white smoke which symbolized the prayers and praises of the faithful ascending to heaven. Because the ancients often burned frankincense during religious rituals, this gift symbolizes sacrifice, Christ's divinity, His sweet savor, and His priestly role. It is also a symbol of the Divine name of God.

Frankincense is a sweet smelling gum resin derived from certain Boswellia trees which, at the time of Christ, grew in Arabia, India, and Ethiopia. This gum is known as frankincense. Its name in other languages is: luban (Arabic), libanos (Greek), olibanum (Latin), incense (French and German).

The frankincense trade was at its height during the days of the Roman Empire. At that time this resin was considered as valuable as gems or precious metals.


Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha)

Myrrh was another one of the gifts of the Magi or wise men. [Mt 2:11] Legend says Caspar brought the gift of myrrh from Europe or Tarsus and placed it before the Christ Child. Because of myrrh's various medicinal uses this gift represents Christ's human nature, the Suffering Savior, the Great Physician, and the Passion.

Myrrh is an aromatic gum resin which oozes from gashes cut in the bark of a small desert tree known as Commiphora Myrrha - Balsamodendron Myrrha or the dindin tree. (The gashes are reminders of the wounds Christ received while being flogged by the Roman soldiers.) Myrrh was an extremely valuable commodity during biblical times and was imported from India and Arabia.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary  (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a small perennial evergreen shrub of the mint family (Laminaceae, or Labiatae) whose leaves are used to flavor foods. Rosemary is steeped in the Christmas tradition.

Rosemary has been used extensively since 500 b.c. In ancient Greece, it was recognized for its alleged ability to strengthen the brain and memory. 

Several variations of the rosemary legend are told, all of which revolve around Mary the mother of Jesus and her draping of a garment over the rosemary plant. One version tells that during the Holy Familyís flight to Egypt, Mary draped the childís garment over a nearby bush- that of the rosemary shrub. It was sporting its usual white bloom at the time, which then turned blue in honor of the Christ Child.

A variation of this theme indicates that it was her own cloak, which was blue that was draped over the shrub. The color blue is traditionally associated with the Holy Mother in the Christian church and some say the flower is blue in deference to her. Another variation on the theme says that at the time the Christ Childís garments were draped over the bush it was given its pleasant aroma as a reward for providing this service to the Child. 

Perhaps it is this distinctive, memorable scent that gives rosemary its reputation as an herb of remembrance. It was used at funerals, thrown into the grave and given to the grieved as a sign the deceased would not be forgotten. It also was woven into the brides wreath at her wedding to remind the participants not to forget their vows. Thus it also came to represent friendship and fidelity.





ADVERTISEMENT... Greek Flowers Portal

Home | Information | Advertise | Contact Us | Greek Version | English Version