The Pomander

Another Christmas ritual I remember fondly as a child was making pomanders. I suspect that most people don’t even know what this is; it is so terribly old fashioned now.

But my grandmother loved them and taught me how to make them. They are made from any citrus fruit such as oranges, clementines, satsumas or kumquats. You stud them with whole cloves in either a pattern or all over. I used to sit for hours poking clove stems into the orange peel and then hanging them on the tree.

Pomanders were made in the Middle Ages predominately to make the air, linen and clothes smell nice. I suspect that the tradition went on for centuries but seems to have fallen out of favour now. That’s a shame.

But when you think of Christmas it is hard to pass up those beautiful aromas of spice and fruit. Christmas is the only time of year that you get away with decorating with fruit. It is an old tradition, the Romans and Greeks were fans. They lavished them all around their homes and dinner tables but even in the 1970’s this wasn’t really a common decorative practice.

My grandmother however was a devotee, in particular the cornucopia of festive fruits from the northern hemisphere that proved rather difficult to find in country Victoria but she somehow managed to find them. I knew of these fruits only from my grandmother, they are not common in Australia, not even in winter.

Her bowls would be filled with red berries, mulberries, blackberries, pomegranates, rosy red apples, figs, nuts in shells and fresh white and red roses (you couldn’t eat those). These baskets and bowls were dotted throughout the house and available to eat at any time, depending on your view (and your love of chocolate) I do think this is a much better option on the healthy Christmas eating scale!

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