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ORANGE POMANDER: The History of Healing in a Holiday Tradition


A Holiday Tradition

with History of Healing and Protection


The Orange Pomander is a fragrant spiced fruit that is popularly used as décor, incense, and a gift during the Fall and Winter Holidays.   You have seen these beautiful and fragrant Oranges that are decorated with Clove, Cinnamon, and other warm spices.


Making Orange Pomanders is favorite Holiday pastime in Modern times. And the scent of Orange, Clove and Cinnamon has become the signature scent of the Fall and Winter Holidays. However, the origin of the Orange Pomanders traces back 500 years to Medieval Europe.  


Let’s explore the history behind the scent that gives us the warm fuzzy holiday feeling….


Orange Pomander history



History of the Pomander


The Pomanders were first recorded in Europe in the Middle Ages and were used as Herbal Amulets that were worn around the neck or placed in the home, with the intention of protecting one from Negative Spirits, Energies, harm, jealousy, and envy.    The Herbalists alternatively used the Pomander balls of Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and other exotic Spices to protect the individual from the Plague and other Infections.   Medieval herbalists used pomanders—mixtures of fragrant, dried herbs in cloth bags or perforated boxes—to ward off illness or bring strength and good fortune.


The word "pomander" derives from the French pomme d'ambre, meaning "apple of amber"—a reference to the round shape of the object and the occasional addition of ambergris (an aged substance from the bile duct of a sperm whale). Strongly scented pomanders of ambergris were used in Europe during the time of the Plague to cover up and purify "bad air."


Orange Pomander Spices and Benefits


Benefits of the Spices

The Exotic Spices of the Orange Pomander have been used throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East as perfumes and fragrances and as spices for cuisines. Ancient herbalists and healers used the The Essential oils of Orange, Clove, Cinnamon and Nutmeg for protection from Virus, Bacteria, and other microbes.


Wild Orange is a favorite Essential Oil in most cultures for its energizing and uplifting qualities.  [While many people diffuse Wild Orange essential oil to purify the air, this oil can also help uplift mood and increase feelings of energy. Wild Orange essential oil has immune benefits as well. 


Cinnamon comes from a Tropical Tree in Ceylon with fragrant bark, leaves, and flowers. Extracted from bark, ingested Cinnamon oil supports healthy metabolic function and helps maintain a healthy immune system.   Cinnamon is frequently used in mouth rinses and chewing gums. Cinnamon has a long history of culinary uses, adding spice to desserts, entrées, and hot drinks. Due to its high content of cinnamaldehyde, Cinnamon is potent, and the fragrance lives long, therefore only small amounts go a long way.


Clove has been used for years in dental preparations, candy, and gum for its flavor and ability to cleanse the mouth, yet it provides a myriad of benefits. Its main chemical component, eugenol, makes it a very stimulating and energizing essential oil that can be used as a warming massage oil. Clove oil contains powerful antioxidant properties and supports cardiovascular health when taken internally. As a cooking spice, Clove oil adds a spicy flavor to any dish or dessert while providing internal health benefits.


Nutmeg, native to Indonesia, is an evergreen tree cultivated for two spices derived from its fruit: nutmeg, from its seed, and mace, from the seed covering. Nutmeg has been prized since medieval times as a culinary flavoring and for use in herbal preparations. Nutmeg essential oil has a warm, spicy aroma that is energizing and uplifting to the senses. Nutmeg contains antioxidants, may support cognitive function and the immune system.


As you can see, these Herbs and Essential oils of the Orange Pomander have a host of wonderful Benefits that help to energize, warm, and uplift the mind.   They also have potent effects on the immune system and protective benefits against microbes.    The Midlevel healers also felt the Orange Pomander and its herbal elements were potent Amulets that could be worn or placed in the home.   They believed that the Orange Pomander was protection against negative energies, jealousy, envy, and the Evil Eye.



How to make and orange pomander for the holidays

How to Make an Orange Pomanders for the Holidays


Today, pomander balls are usually a lot simpler; most consist of an orange or other citrus fruit studded with cloves and dusted with other spices. See our own recipe below!

  • Take firm oranges and stud them with whole cloves. That's it!
  • Be creative and arrange the cloves in diamonds, circles, or other patterns. As the orange dries, it will release a delicate, spicy fragrance.
  • For a stronger aroma, cover the entire orange with cloves, and then roll it in a mixture of spices such as: 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg, 1 tablespoon allspice, 1/4 cup powdered orris root. Leave the orange in the mix for a week, turning once a day.
  • To hang your pomander, run a long wire through the orange; make a knot at the bottom and a loop at the top for hanging. Or you can tie red ribbon around your pomander for a festive look!


How to use Orange Pomanders


  • Arrange the cloves in special shapes and patterns.

  • Create a centerpiece for your next holiday meal or to decorate your home for the Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • Give as gifts in a plastic bag with a red ribbon!

  • Use small oranges to create a fragrant ornament for the Christmas tree.

  • Once dried, hang pomanders in your closet or add to your drawers as a fragrant sachet.



Orange Pomanders make great gifts, and they also dress up your holiday table.   The Spicy aroma permeates the room and leaves a warm, uplifting, and cozy vibe.


How to use the orange pomander