DAA Daily

Christmas Herbs And Their Meanings

By: Najla Banimalek, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint

There are some iconic dishes and scents of the holiday season; Vanilla cookies, cinnamon apple pie, or savory turkey roasts. These coat the holiday season in sweetness and make us feel warm and cozy. However, wouldn’t you like to know the origins of some of the herbs used in these dishes, and how they came to be associated with christmas?

Cinnamon

Although this isn’t an herb, it would be impossible to keep it out during the holidays! Whether it is used to make eggnog, cookies, or witches brew, it is very seasonal for this time of year. It is also often paired with nutmeg and vanilla, which are two other iconic seasonal spices.

During medieval times, it was important to have a lot of cinnamon for preservation reasons in the winter time. It slowly then became incorporated with feasts during this time, and people began using it in their christmas dishes. 

Rosemary

You may have seen this herb decorating the side of your main course, but it is also a great flavouring for meat. It can be used for turkey, lamb, or beef. 

In ancient times it was believed that rosemary represented love, communion, and loyalty, which heavily influenced why it is used in so many christmas dishes. As we are gathering together to dine with our families, the rosemary reminds us of our companionship and helps us embrace our love for each other.

Sage

Similar to rosemary, Sage is used to compliment many meat dishes, specifically with turkey and chicken. Although it is a bit different, because sage is very pungent in flavour and smell.

Arabs believed that sage had a wide range of health benefits, with the proverb “How can a man die who has sage in his garden?”. People slowly started incorporating this into the wintertime, creating teas out of it. Thus how it then became a seasonal christmas seasoning.

Lavender

Being an extremely aromatic herb, it is no surprise as to why this would be incorporated into a big feast. There is also heavy symbolism with the color purple. 

During the holidays, many churches decorate their buildings with purple and blue colors. This is because it symbolized fasting and repentance, which occurred when people had to store their crops to last throughout the winter. It was also because this is normally perceived as a time of reflection, as we near the end of the year.

Peppermint

There is no such thing as a Christmas without candy canes! This signature minty taste reminds everyone of when they were a child, getting excited to receive their seasonal treats.

In the 1960’s, a choirmaster used to hand out little mints to children to keep them occupied. The trend of hanging mints on christmas trees then began, which progressed into candy canes, that came in all sorts of colors and flavours. 

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