Monday, November 15, 2010

Essential Oils for the Holidays

I always say that essential oils make life better and never is it more true than this time of year.  It's getting colder and darker everyday, the holidays are looming, and it can be a stressful and sometimes depressing time of year.  For the Fall and Winter holidays, we are naturally attracted to essential oils that are warming, cheerful and remind us of the smells we are familiar with for the holidays.  I am always fascinated by the oils we choose and the reasons we choose them.  Some of the reasons are quite logical, some seem to be natural instinct.  If you look at the properties of the herbs and plants we like to use for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's no wonder we are naturally attracted to their oils.

Sweet Orange is my least favorite citrus oil but I use a lot of it this time of year because it blends so well with other oils that I use.  Citrus oils are especially useful this time of year to counteract the effects of less daylight.  Sometimes I will use some Lemon or Bergamot, but really Orange is the best.  You can try some Bitter Orange oil if you like more of a marmalade scent over fresh orange peel scent.

Many spice oils are fabulous this time of year.  These are from the same spices we tend to use in cooking, they are warming, and since they are so familiar, they are comforting.  A blend of any of these oils along with Sweet Orange in a burner will make your house smell inviting and festive and just might stimulate everybodys appetite before they sit down for the Thanksgiving feast-got get rid of all that you food you slaved over for hours or days.  Try Cinnamon Bark, Clove Bud, Allspice, Nutmeg (use sparingly), Cardamom and Ginger.  The kind of spices you would find in pumpkin pie or a nice spicey Chai tea.  If you want to mix things up a bit try adding some Coriander Seed or Black Pepper.

For Christmas oils that remind us of Christmas trees work very well.  Pine, Cypress, Fir, Spruce, Rosemary, Cedarwood maybe some Juniper Berry or Myrtle.  No wonder we like these.  Not only do they remind us of Chritmas trees, but they are clarifying and invigorating and they keep our heads and lungs clear.  Perfect at the time of year when it seems to always be dark and we are getting colds.  They can give us the mental boost we need and relieve physical discomfort.

Also for Christmas our favorite Biblical oils-Frankincense and Myrrh.  And no wonder.  These oils have been used in religious ceremonies for thousands of years because they are meditative and calming and focus the mind on the divine.  Two of the Three gifts of the Magi to the Christ child, the symbolic meanings are significant:  Gold for a King, Frankincense for a Priest, Myrrh for a Prophet.

Of course if you're Italian by birth or by marriage (like me) Basil, Oregano, Parsley and Rosemary will also make you think of Thanksgiving or Christmas since dinner usually includes a Pasta dish.

I can't forget the most comforting fragrance of them all-Vanilla.  Vanilla oleoresin can be difficult to deal with so a good way to include Vanilla is to add some true Vanilla extract to some water being simmered in a crock pot-add a couple drops of sweet orange and you'll have a creamsicle scent.  NEVER use vanilla extract over an open flame since the alcohol makes if flammable!

Have fun spicing up your holidays!

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