Fragrances That Capture the Spirit of Christmas
This post is sponsored by Fragrance Samples UK
Up and down the country, children have been busy learning their lines in preparation for one of the great Christmas traditions – the school nativity play.
While for many kids these days Christmas is all about Santa and presents, the nativity play keeps alive the ‘true’ story of what Christmas is all about – the birth of Jesus, in a manger, in a cattle shed in Bethlehem, with his doting parents Mary and Joseph and a cast of farm animals and shepherds there to witness the miracle.
Oh, and not forgetting the three kings/wise men who travel from afar with their precious gifts for the infant king – gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Thanks to the nativity play, this story about that very first Christmas and how the tradition of gift-giving started is deeply ingrained in our collective understanding about what Christmas is all about. Yet what is often overlooked is the nature of those very first Christmas gifts.
Of course, we all know what gold is. But frankincense and myrrh? How many people could tell you that both are aromatic substances used to make fragrances and incense (and considered precious commodities) since ancient times?
So if you’re still sweating on the perfect Christmas gift for a special someone, why not look for inspiration from the story that started it all? What better than to go back to the very roots of Christmas and make a gift of fragrance, just like the three wise men did?
For that truly authentic nativity touch, here are three fabulous fragrance gift options – one frankincense-based, one myrrh… and one ‘gold’.
Frankincense is a highly aromatic resin extracted from the Boswellia tree, a small shrub-like plant that is native to Oman, Yemen, the Horn of Africa and parts of India.
The tree itself is rare, thriving only in very particular, arid conditions in rocky limestone environments. When you add the fact that extracting the resin is a very laborious process that yields only a small amount of material from each tree, you start to understand why frankincense has been considered such a valuable commodity for millennia.
It is certainly worth all the effort, though, as frankincense has a wonderful aroma – rich and complex, combining in a single substance many fragrance notes which expert perfume makers routinely seek to blend and balance. Frankincense is at once earthy, woody and spicy, but also sweet and fruity, with a delicate zesty edge that cuts through it all. In other words, a fine fragrance blended perfectly by nature.
A great example of a perfume that makes use of frankincense is Portrait of a Lady by Frederic Malle. This warm, spicy, resinous fragrance is a real Christmas cracker, pairing frankincense with sandalwood, patchouli and musk to create a heady and exotic punch that is mellowed with rose, black currant, raspberry and cinnamon. A real head turner for Christmas gatherings and beyond.
Like frankincense, not only is myrrh one of the oldest known fragrance ingredients, it is also derived from the resin of a desert shrub native to southern Arabia and east Africa, in this case the thorny commiphora myrrha. It even shares a similar odour profile to frankincense, often being described as woody, warm and spicy with a sweet, balsamic, slightly medicinal edge to it.
In perfume making, myrrh is known for being highly pungent and intense, so a little goes a long way. It finds a natural home in highly aromatic, exotic-smelling fragrances alongside other ingredients that might be described as having ‘oriental’ qualities about them.
To get a flavour of what myrrh-based perfumes are all about, you could do a lot worse than Jo Malone’s Myrrh & Tonka. The two signature ingredients provide a delightful complement to one another. Tonka bean is another seductively complex fragrance, at once sweet, nutty, spicy and herbaceous. This provides the base for the resinous myrrh, with vanilla, almond and lavender adding sweet, floral flourishes. An absolute winner for winter evening wear, full of all the sugar and spice of the festive season.
Finally, unlike frankincense and myrrh, gold might not exactly be a fragrance ingredient, but there is no shortage of perfume products that use the word to market themselves. For a real festive treat of a fragrance – and one, given its unisex positioning, we might say is fit for gifting to any king or queen – we recommend Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Gentle Fluidity Gold.
Another big, bold fragrance to wrap yourself up in on cold winter nights, Gentle Fluidity Gold has a huge base that combines the sweetness of vanilla, the rich warmth of amber and the subtle, balanced depth of musk. On top of that, your nostrils get treated to the floral spiciness of coriander seed, teased out further in the top notes with nutmeg and juniper berries. A rich Christmas cocktail of a fragrance that will truly make you feel like you’re glittering.
Can’t decide which of these precious gifts is right for your loved one? Well why not treat them to all three with miniature sized fragrance samples? Fragrance Samples UK stock 1000s of genuine fragrances in bottles up to 10ml in size, allowing you to put together a gift that will keep on giving long after Christmas is over.