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Oranges + cloves = fragrant Christmas pomanders

Filed Under: food, seasonal, Crafts

In ye olden days -- those innocent days before electric-powered candles and robotic Santa yard decor -- people would handcraft their holiday decorations. And in the 19th century, the well-to-do would use oranges because at that time oranges were considered an exotic treat and, therefore, a bit of a holiday splurge. Quaint, huh? Makes sense, too, given that oranges are -- when you think about it -- extremely beautiful to look at. Then there's the heavenly citrus fragrance.

Back in those days, the ladies would make Christmas pomanders by decorating oranges with cloves. Not only did they look pretty, the combination of oranges and cloves also smelled terrific. Which I'm guessing was a refreshing change from normal household odors of the day like beeswax polish, horse manure, and oil lamps... Read more about the history of pomanders here.

Want to have a go at making your own orange pomanders?


The simplest design is to cover the orange all over with cloves. Use a large needle to poke holes all over the orange and gently push the cloves into the holes. Once the entire orange is covered, you can gently roll the pomander in ground cinnamon or a pumpkin pie spice mixture for an enhanced scent.

If you have the time and patience, however, using the cloves to create pretty patterns on the oranges is by far the best approach. The cloves can also be used to spell out words or individual letters. This is a striking way to highlight a spot in your home such as the fireplace -- simply row the oranges up along the mantle to spell out a word like "CHRISTMAS," "HOLY," "NOEL," "SILENT NIGHT," or "JOY." Orange pomanders look stunning arranged in a bowl or basket, too. Finally, to make longer-lasting pomanders, follow these instructions for cured pomanders. Have a citrus-sweet holiday season!

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