Anna-Marie from Life’s Adventures gave me the idea to buy real frankincense and myrrh this year and I thought I’d post how things went. Honestly, I didn’t even know what frankincense and myrrh were, though the “incense” in frankincense should have been a clue. Both frankincense and myrrh are dried tree sap that come from trees common to Somalia. Both frankincense and myrrh are still used today for a variety of religious and medicinal purposes, in addition to using them just as incenses.
At the time of Christ’s birth, the gift of frankincense and myrrh, would have been a very generous gift. According to Wikipedia:
Since ancient times, myrrh has been valued for its fragrance, its medicinal qualities as a wound dressing and an aromatic stomatic and for the ancient Egyptians as the principal ingredient used in the embalming of mummies. So valuable has it been at times in ancient history that it has been equal in weight value to gold. During times of scarcity its value rose even higher than that. It has been used throughout history as a perfume, incense and medicine.
Originally, I put some frankincense in Dora’s sensory bucket, but you really don’t get much aroma that way. So I decided to burn them properly. I had never used incenses before, so had to do quite a bit of research to find out how to burn them. There are electric incense burners, but I decided to go with a brass censer and charcoal, as this seemed more authentic to the time period that Christ was born in.
The first step for burning frankincense and myrrh is to light your charcoal, which we had a very difficult time of doing. Tertia did some research and finally found a way that worked for us. We lit a candle and then using tongs to hold the charcoal disk, held the charcoal in the candle’s flame until the charcoal started burning well. Then we placed the charcoal in the censer and topped it with some of the frankincense and myrrh and put the top on the censer. (If you decide to do this, be careful, the censer gets VERY HOT).
In regards to the smell, the smell was pleasant, in a tree sappy sort of way, though it got to be a bit much for me. I should note that I am very sensitive to odors, such that we use only fragrance-free products in our house.
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