The festive decorations and sparkling lights may come and go from our memories, but the scent of spicy cinnamon baked goods, minty candy canes, or the woodsy sweetness of a real Christmas tree seems indelibly etched into our minds. Often the holiday season can be very emotionally charged with memories of joyful times with loved ones gathering together, painful recollections of family strife, or tinged with the longing for those who cannot be near. All of these experiences are reflected in how we respond to the scents of the season. Because essential oils can activate the deepest emotional center of the brain, they not only can calm the stress associated with yuletide hustle and bustle, but also help soothe and heal the past emotional trauma which often results in anxiety, even depression, around what is expected to be the most joyous and peaceful time of year.
Need a way of taking a break from the holiday pressures, expectations, and tasks that leave you feeling overwhelmed? A nice relaxing aromatherapy bath! Believe me, it is a great healthy excuse to sit still for a few minutes and BREATHE! There is no fancy concocting of bath salts necessary. I just pour in a cup of Epsom salts and a tablespoon of baking soda, then drop in a few drops of pure essential oils while the tub is filling. Lavender, Believe Blend, and Peace and Calming Blend are among my favorites for relaxation.
Diffusing essential oils throughout your home is a wonderful method to create a calm and inviting atmosphere while purifying the air, killing cold and flu germs, and increasing indoor oxygen. Cold air diffusers work best for maintaining the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Avoid candle burners and light bulb rings, keeping in mind that E Os are extremely flammable and should not be allowed to scorch. Interestingly, pure cinnamon oil, whose fragrance is most commonly associated with the holiday season, is also one of the most antibacterial of all essential oils. Christmas Spirit Blend (orange, spruce, and cinnamon) is my top choice for diffusing during the holiday season.
“And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and fell down and worshipped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts , gold and frankincense and myrrh.” Matthew 2:11
Since childhood, whenever the Christmas story was read, I would be left pondering why frankincense and myrrh were included as gifts for the newborn King. Gold, that is extremely valuable and understandable, but why the smelly stuff, I wondered? I was pretty excited to lay my hands on the missing piece of that mystery when I became an aromatherapist! In ancient times, frankincense was often used as a currency equal to, or in some cases, considered more valuable than gold. It was used to anoint the newborn sons of kings and priests which is why it was a very appropriate gift for Baby Jesus. The value was not purely symbolic, however.
According to Egyptian writings, Frankincense was considered a powerful and versatile substance used to cure everything from “gout to a broken head” , in other words, it was healing from head to toe. Very spiritually uplifting as well and could be found in temples, chapels, and cathedrals for centuries. Researchers are now discovering in recent studies that frankincense contains properties that may inhibit tumor growth in certain cancers.
Kind of a “first aid” oil in Biblical times, Myrrh is highly antiseptic in nature, excellent for skin conditions, oral hygiene, and was customarily used on umbilical cords of newborns to protect the navel from infection. Mary would have had many uses for this ointment to help her own post partum healing and for protecting her new baby from illness. Yes, the Wise Men had their reasons for choosing those specific aromatic gifts and we are blessed to be provided with ancient clues that can benefit our own health in the modern world.
Christians are called to be the “fragrance of Christ” in the world, which is a delightful reminder of how we should celebrate the birth of our Savior.