For many of us, harnessing the smell of Christmas is an act of nostalgia. We sniff the boughs of the fir trees to find the one with the most piney scent; we mull wine for the aroma in our house as much as our drinking pleasure and we purchase scented candles, pine cones or room diffusers to evoke the smell of Christmases past.
The festive season is redolent with the fresh scent of tangerine, the rich spicy aroma of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg alongside the smell of resinous tree bark. An understanding of these notes from a perfumery perspective can give an insight into why we are drawn to these olfactory profiles.
The Hesperidic Facet is a group of ingredients with similar citrus-like qualities. It includes Bitter Orange, Sweet Orange, Grapefruit and Tangerine. Whether it is dehydrated in slices to hang on the tree or squeezed into our fruit mincemeat, orange is a key element of the Christmas composition.
The Spice Facet can enliven a fragrance with its warmth and freshness. The Hot Spice Facet includes Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg, Pepper, Saffron and Aniseed, to name a few. These notes are often used to bridge the gap between the lighter notes of a composition and the deeper, woody tones.
Ingredients in the Balsamic Facet bring depth and richness to a fragrance. They are responsible for the scent that lingers on your skin. The notes associated with Christmas belong to the Resinous Balsamic Facet. This is the smell that takes you to the forests of your childhood when you rubbed sticky resin between your fingers and inhaled its scent. Odours in this facet include Frankincense, Myrrh and Opoponax.
Winter is punctuated by the festive season. We may be in the throws of cold weather and dark days but at the centre of the season there is light, hope and warm, comforting aromas. The sweet scent of Orange issues a joyous invitation to celebrate life this Christmas. Warm, spiced notes of Clove and Cinnamon draw us closer to the heart of the season and ask us to pause there. Finally, the deep, resinous tones of Frankincense and Myrrh linger into the New Year as a testament to hope that endures.