The Everyday Lore Project

16 December 2020 – Pomander

16 December 2020 – Pomander

This one will be a quickie as I’m cream crackered today. I’ve been making pomanders. I was going to make pomander singular, but enjoyed the process so much I used my back up orange to make another one. 

Pomanders were originally balls of perfume worn to ward off pestilence and evil spirits. But at some point, they became better known as decorative gifts associated with Christmas and New Year. And it’s also said that if tied with a red or golden ribbon, you’ve got yourself a pomander doubling as a good luck or protection charm. 

All you need to make a pomander is an orange, a lot of cloves and a ribbon. Both my sets of instructions included piercing implements such as knitting needles and toothpicks, but my orange peels were soft enough to do without.

It’s times like these I wish websites were scratch and sniff. Some websites anyway. Orange zest and clove has to be one of the most glorious combinations ever. Clove on its own is a little lip pursing, but pair it with the orange, and the scent is heavenly. All I did to make my pomanders was truss up the oranges with the ribbon and stud the remaining exposed peel with cloves. 

The first pomander, I spaced out the cloves a bit and then bejazzled the ribbon. It reminded me of a cross between a conker, a mace and Pinhead from Hellraiser. I found the act of studding quite meditative, as in there was nothing to think about other than covering the orange with tiny little stars. 

The second pomander is a work in progress, as according to Here’s One I Made Earlier, Classic Blue Peter Makes, their Elizabethan Pomander takes six weeks to cure. They write this in capitals in case you miss it. I missed it which is why I didn’t make this six weeks ago. The Elizabethan Pomander has a lot more tightly packed cloves, making it a lot more heavy. And instead of hanging it up, I had to put it in a paper bag and cover it in talcum powder. Only I didn’t have talcum powder, so I subbed in cornstarch. Only I didn’t have cornstarch, so I subbed in custard powder. The bag is now folded over and left next to the radiator by my desk. And in SIX WEEKS, it’ll be ready. I may or may not tell you how it goes.

In other news, I blew my shell spell by completely forgetting about it this morning. So I’m hoping it will have super-absorbed all the watery psychic energy when I get to it tomorrow. 

And finally, here’s today’s AdVent:

Oh and it’s also the official start of the mince pie eating season, so you can now legitimately fill your boots . Phew, that was longer than I thought.

How much time is left on The Everyday Lore Project?


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Hannan, J. (Editorial Director) (2018) Here’s One I Made Earlier, Classic Blue Peter Makes, London, Kyle Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

2 comments on “16 December 2020 – Pomander”

  1. Rachel says:

    used to make one every year when I was a kid, my half German Mum seems obsessed with cloves (they get spiked all lover the xmas honey roast ham too!) . I used to make them when i left home but haven’t bothered so much in the last few years-not sure it would be so popular with the cats!

    1. I like the sound of your mum! And sod the cats, the smell is too gorgeous not to make one!

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