by Rick Vuyst
It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas. What is the link between our Christmas emotions and the aroma of evergreen? Maybe it’s because smelling like a fir tree is far better than smelling like a holiday ham. The essential oils of conifers and the gooey resins of pine make us think of the outdoors and fresh air. It is a holiday “scent-iment.” Their natural antibacterial qualities make us feel good about being around them. I still think, however, it is the childhood scent memory of fresh greens and the Christmas tree that is permanently locked in our minds. That aroma takes us back and provides warm memory recall. It just makes “scents” to incorporate evergreen into our holiday season.
Christmas just doesn’t feel right if the smell is off. Even the artificial tree scenters that attempt to give a life-like tree aroma can fall short smelling like a vehicle air freshener or a last minute candle purchase. Below are a list of evergreen options to properly incorporate an honest holiday smell.
In my opinion, Pseudotsuga, known as Douglas Fir, has the sweetest aroma of the evergreens. A sweet smelling almost citrus scent makes it perfect for arranging boughs, wreaths, roping or a Christmas tree.
This giant forest tree hails from the West Coast, and the greens generally are brought in from Oregon. Foliage, cones, and bark also have the scent of cedar. Look for cedar incense to burn for a stronger, more prominent scent.
Balsam and Fraser Firs
The true firs like Balsam and Fraser are my favorites for holiday scents. A somewhat pungent yet pleasant aroma of resins and essential oils with great needle retention make these trees a “scent”-sational option for evoking aromatic memories at Christmas.
With pine, the aroma is not just a sentiment. I believe the nose sends a signal to the brain that pine has healing powers.
Did you know?
In Japan, going for a therapeutic walk in the woods is known as forest bathing and “taking in the atmosphere of the forest.” I read often how this practice has been studied for its ability to ease stress. Additionally, early explorers of the new world learned from Native Americans the value of pine needles boiled in water, as a sailors pine tea contained both vitamin C and antioxidants.