Ohio Herb Center Celebrates Holiday Herbal Craft Traditions

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With the holidays just around the corner, you may be considering adding a few new decorations this year. Shannon Barnette, Ohio Herb Education Center coordinator, shares some ideas for some inexpensive do-it-yourself decorations inspired by herbs! Join the Herb Center staff on November 16 and 23 to create a few take-home crafts of your own!
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pomanderHerbal traditions through the holiday season have become so ingrained in us that sometimes their historic beginnings are overlooked.  The fall and winter months were once times of preparation, preservation and celebration for early Americans and herbal traditions played a large role in the holiday season.

The creation of pomanders is one such tradition brought to America by early settlers.  Traditionally they were made of heavily perfumed and pungent herbs to help prevent the spread of illness and bad smells and either worn or carried.  The Victorian era re-adopted the love for pomanders and many began incorporating these creations into their festive holiday décor. Fresh oranges would be decorated with cloves in all sorts of patterns to create a natural ornament pleasing to the eye. Cloves derive their name from a Latin word meaning “nail” so they adhere well to the orange peel. They are immature flowers from a tropical tree and when fresh, cloves are pink in color. Cloves are the perfect herb for this craft. Their naturally occurring anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties help preserve the orange and keep them from rotting or getting moldy while used as decorations.

bay wreathAnother herbal tradition is lush wreaths which are always an eye pleasing addition to holiday festivities.  Bay laurel leaves and branches are commonly used as wreaths during this season, but why?  Bay was viewed as a symbol of victory, fame and prosperity by many early cultures.  Its circular shape was to represent the changes of the seasons and cycle of life.  The bay laurel’s pungent aroma, like thyme or oregano, is a great bug repellant.  This insect repellant property is the reason early settlers hung them on their doorways as their fall harvests were brought indoors.

Learn more about these herbal traditions and create herb crafts of your own on Saturdays, November 16 and 23 at the Ohio Herb Center, 110 Mill St., Gahanna, where the parlor will be transformed into an open craft area for adults and children. Go HERE for details or call (614) 342-4250 to register.

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