Making a simple orange pomander
Something I loved to make as a child: a fragrant decoration for the house, the Christmas tree or as a last-minute gift. Put it near a source of heat to allow the oils to warm and scent the room.
You need an orange, ribbon, drawing pin, cloves
- Stick as many cloves as you like into a medium-sized orange.
- Remove the calyx (the little knob at the top of the orange), then put ribbon round it on four sides; tie on top with a bow and make a loop for hanging.
- Put it somewhere warm and dry (an airing cupboard is ideal), to dry out and it will make a sweet smelling present. Put it in the wardrobe to scent your clothes and help keep away moths.
Garden Lore – The Holly and the Ivy
Two plants above all others are associated with winter and Christmas in the public’s mind: the holly and the ivy. Growing neatly in gardens or exuberantly in the wild, each can be found all over Britain, in hedgerow and city. The Holly is a lucky tree, for it is a symbol of great vitality; it wards off unfriendly spirits. The Holly Man lives in the tree that bears prickly leaves and the Holly Woman’s home is the tree with smooth, variegated leaves. It is said that if the holly has lots of berries it will be a cold, hard winter.
To help your garden grow well, here is an old charm for the new moon:
Pour a quart of ale into a silver tankard on the night of each new moon. Drop in nine holly berries, blessed and washed in the moon’s rays. Lift the tankard of ale and say this charm to the moon:
‘Fair Selene, I drink to thee!
May this mead a potion be!’
Then empty the tankard over your plants for a fine display of blooms!
Ivy is said to tell the fortune of a house; if it suddenly withers, the present occupiers will move on; but if it grows upon the walls of the building, it gives protection from malice and misadventure.
Ivy is used in this old love spell for young women: pick an ivy leaf and hold it to your heart and as you walk chant three times:
‘Ivy, ivy I love you
In my bosom I put you.
The first young man who speaks to me
My future husband he shall be.’
The robin, seen around a great deal in the winter, is a favourite bird both in the garden and on greetings cards this season. But it is not the reason why the bird is associated with Christmas. Red is a colour associated with royalty and in the Victorian era, when national mail services started, postmen wore red coats to identify themselves as employees of the Royal Mail.They were nicknamed ‘Robin.’ When Christmas cards became popular, the robin was used as a cheerful symbol of the postman who brought the cards on Christmas day – one old tradition that’s very unlikely to be revived!