I’m going to be quick as the Masterchef final is on.
Anyhow. On this day last year, I made two pomanders. I didn’t need to make two pomanders, I just enjoyed the process and the smell so much that I decided to double my fun (plus I had A LOT of excess cloves). For those of you who somehow haven’t committed my every deed during The Everyday Lore Project to memory (or can’t be arsed to click this link to my original post), a pomander is a be-ribboned orange studded with cloves and given as a traditional Christmas or New Year gift.
And why do these bondage fruit need revisiting? Well, while the first pomander went off without a hitch:
in characteristic fashion, I had not read the instructions for the Blue Peter Elizabethan version I was using for my second. It needed six weeks to cure. And six weeks was beyond the end of the project. And the project nearly destroyed me. And when my calendar reminder popped up sometime in January to say ta da! I ignored it.
So for the last year, the second pomander has been curing in custard powder (seriously, click the link), nestled in a paper bag between a box of printer ink and the radiator. I decided to make an anniversary unveiling. Hence why we’re here.
I was not particulalry worried about what I would find. Given I work next to the box of printer ink and the radiator, I was pretty certain nothing had festered, otherwise I’m sure I would have gotten a whiff. And also, I’d never unhung the first pomander, I’d just transferred it from my tree to a random nail above a doorway, and that one hadn’t gone mouldy. Just a bit shrivelled and dusty.
But just in case, I gave the bag a good sniff. Very clovey, with a hint of vanilla. When I opened it, the pomander looked like it was covered in snow. Snow that made me sneeze. And the orange was rock hard. I had a quick feel of the original for comparison, and that was solid too. I tried tapping the white stuff off, that didn’t work. But with the help of an old toothbrush I usually reserve for cleaning my bathroom sink plughole, I managed to brush off the majority of the custard powder. The rest I attempted to blow away, but that made me very lightheaded, like when I blow up balloons, so I stopped.
And now it is hanging on my tree looking a little ill at ease with itself. Most of the divine smell vanished with the powder, which is a shame. However, as pomanders were originally thought to avert pestilence, it’s staying. In fact, with things being as they are at the moment, I might just make another one.
Merry Christmas, happy New Year, keep safe, and dig folklore.
The Everyday Lore Project ran from St Distaff’s Day 2020 to Twelfth Night 2021 wherein I followed the ritual year and wrote about the folklore, customs and traditions I found each day and then experienced. So if you’re in need of a little folkloric inspiration on any given date, just pop it in the search bar and fill your boots.