Orange Pomanders: The Scent of Christmas



“A big orange and some fresh pine boughs and ‘Silent Night’ are all I need, and cookies, of course.  They are the strings that when I pull on them, I pull up the complete glittering storybook Christmases of my childhood.” Garrison Keillor

The tradition of oranges at Christmas is thought to have originated with St Nicholas who placed gold in the poor people’s shoes in what is today Turkey.  Oranges are thought to be a symbolic interpretation of that tradition since the fruit was an exotic and rare treat.  The orange’s segments are a symbol of being able to share your wealth with others.  My maman who grew up in poverty, one of 15, in depression era Québec, remembers the joy of receiving a single orange in her worn stocking hung with hope, Christmas Eve.

Clove-studded orange pomanders are thought to have been the first form of aromatherapy going back to the 15th Century.  Making orange pomanders is the modern day version of the first pomanders.  They  are a simple and relaxing craft to make during the holidays.   The pomanders will shrink as they dry out and can be used as natural  air fresheners or moth repellents in closets for up to a year.  To prevent the fruit from getting moldy,  set the clove-studded oranges to dry in a cool place for 4-5 days with good air circulation around before using it in arrangements.

To make the pomanders you will need:

firm oranges with smooth skin(navels are ideal)

whole cloves

a wooden skewer

a citrus zester

Decide on the pattern you want to create with the cloves.    I worked free hand on mine but you can use rubber bands or string to guide your design.  Use the skewer to poke starter holes so the cloves are easy to push in.  Stick the cloves in the holes creating the desired pattern as you work.  For variation, you can use the edge of a zester and remove some peel to create designs this way, as seen in some of my examples.  Did you notice the French Gardener Dishes monogrammed orange?

imageimageimageimageCreate arrangements with your pomanders by grouping them with fragrant holiday greenery, pinecones and whole spices such as cinnamon sticks and star anise pods.image

image image

To gift your pomanders, you can wrap ribbon lengths around with a loop on top so they can be hung.  The pomanders will fill the room with a lovely spicy aroma. There you have it, simple orange pomanders, the scent of Christmas!


My maman, Pierrette,  6th from the left, who remembers the joy of finding a single orange in her Christmas stocking.

8 thoughts on “Orange Pomanders: The Scent of Christmas

  1. What a beautiful and heartfelt blog to read this morning. I see your boys in the 2nd and 4th boys from the left. What an incredible woman your Mom is to have achieved what she has. “Merry Christmas to All.”

  2. I love these! And your advice about making holes with a skewer first is exactly what I needed to know – I made them previously by just pushing the cloves directly into the orange skin and it made my thumb so sore!!!!

  3. Pingback: Christmas Brunch Among the Wrappings | French Gardener Dishes

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