Charlotte formerly worked as an editor of a garden channel and has extensive knowledge of plant care.
10 Popular Holiday Herbs and Their Uses
Have you ever noticed how many of the memories people have about Christmas are related to herbs? Perhaps it is the smell of gingerbread cookies or cinnamon snickerdoodle cookies. Perhaps it is the bayberry-scented candles or the incense used at church during the Christmas pageant. All of these things are directly related to herbs and how they are used during the holiday season, as well as beyond.
Keep in mind that there are many herbs and spices besides those listed that are also related to the holidays for one reason or another. Check out the photo gallery below to view some of the holiday season's most popular.
Christmas Herbs and Spices Lore
The following is a list of the top 10 Christmas herbs and spices and their uses today:
Rosemary is a popular herb for cooking as well as for decorative uses. Go to your local grocery store or garden center during the holiday season to find small rosemary trees that are often decorated for the holiday season. According to legend, this plant bloomed and bore fruit (out of season) on the night Jesus was born.
Rue is an extraordinary herb that can grow in just about any soil condition, even dry, arid ground. Rue is an evergreen herb and has been used for centuries in church ceremonies; small brushes of the herbs were dipped in holy water and then used to sprinkle the congregation. Rue is often dried and hung in the home to banish evil.
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Bayberry is also known as Myrica or Wax Myrtle. The wax found on the fruits of this shrub is often made into candles that are used during the holiday season.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. During Biblical times, Moses said that holy anointing oil should be comprised of sweet cinnamon and cassia. Cinnamon was a prized spice and was given as a gift to visiting dignitaries for centuries. Today it is commonly available and is used in a variety of dishes, especially during the holiday season, as well as in decorations for the home.
Frankincense is widely known as a gift given to baby Jesus from the Three Kings. Frankincense is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It is commonly burned during church masses. It is also added to holy oil that is used for anointing individuals during baptisms.
Lavender is associated with the Christmas holiday for several reasons. First, it is believed that Mary washed Jesus' swaddling clothes with this fragrant herb. Secondly, it is a favored scent for women's scented holiday gifts.
Myrrh comes from the resin of the Commiphora myrrha tree. Myrrh is commonly used as incense in church ceremonies, often during the holidays. It is also one of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Kings. During ancient times, myrrh was many times more valuable than Frankincense.
Ginger is used in many forms during the holiday season. In powdered form, it is used in many recipes, from cakes to cookies as well as meat dishes. The root may be ground and used in culinary dishes as well. The ginger root may also be candied or used in the production of ginger ale and ginger beer, popular drinks during holiday celebrations.
Sage is commonly used in culinary dishes. Legend also holds that Mary and baby Jesus hid in a large blooming sage bush when King Herrod was searching for them. For this reason, sage is known as the herb of immortality.
Bedstraw, also known as the Gallium plant, is an herb that may have been used in baby Jesus' manger. Bedstraw has a sweet honey aroma that is released when warmed. The herb is also used to make red dye.