Christmas Special: Pomanders

Upon browsing Pinterest, as one does, I came across the best holiday topic to discuss for a health blog. That would be (drum roll please) a pomander! “What is a pomander, and what does it have to do with Christmas”, you may ask? Well, a pomander today is usually an orange stuck with cloves, covered in spices, and then dried for fragrance or decoration. Originally, pomanders were more luxurious than they may seem to be today. Keep reading to learn about the history and health benefits of pomanders.

Christmas Must: 9 DIY Pomanders For Decor And Gifts - Shelterness
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Pomander comes from the French saying for “apple amber”. They were originally a luxurious item that people of high class could carry around with them. Today, pomanders are used more as decoration during the holidays.

A Brief History

Pomanders have been around for centuries! Invented in the mid thirteenth century, pomanders were a ball made of wood, silver, or gold with decorative designs on the outside. Inside the ball, one would put wonderful smelling items, such as spices, to create a perfume or fragrance to keep close in their home or on their person. Pomanders were believed to bring good health and good luck.

So why carry such a thing around with you? Well, back then it was believed that death and disease were transferred through the air in the form of bad smells. Therefore, pomanders were viewed as protection against the widespread diseases at the time (I know, not the most cheerful thing). Pomanders were also believed to provide protection against witchcraft.

So then, where does Christmas tie in? It was not until about the eighteenth century that the current pomanders (oranges and spices) made an appearance. These pomanders still had the intended purpose of protection and were still considered a luxury. Pomanders, however, were seen in colonial homes during Christmas as a tradition. They also were a popular gift during Christmas and New Years to bring good luck and good health to the recipient.

Health Benefits

Now, we must discuss the health benefits pomanders provide. Pomanders were originally used with good intentions for one’s health way back when. Although it is not how disease spreads, they were doing their best with what they had and knew. (Yay for modern science!) This is a health blog after all, and other than the aromatherapy, the ingredients used in the modern-day pomanders are healthful. Cloves and oranges do provide some pretty good health benefits, and even more so when they are consumed.


Oranges are well known for their high vitamin C content; however, they are also a good source of antioxidants, potassium, and folate. All of which are beneficial nutrients that are important for over-all health. There is also a good amount of fiber which is great for digestion and gut health. Of which is important for the immune system. Lastly, it is important to eat your water! Oranges contain water that can help to hydrate the body.


What are cloves? The cloves that we see in the herbs and spice section of the grocery store are dried flower buds from the clove tree. Clove can be used as buds or ground up like cinnamon and nutmeg. Health benefits of clove include high antioxidant level, antibacterial properties, and aide with blood sugar.

Related: Cinnamon

Take Away

So, in conclusion, pomanders are a Christmas tradition meant to bring sweet smells and good luck to one’s home. They are easy to make and can be great, homemade gifts. Clove and orange also provide some wonderful health benefits when consumed (separately in non-pomander form).

If you are interested in making your own for the holidays, check out The History of and How to Make Pomander Balls for easy-to-follow instructions.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Bits of Fitness to you!


The History of ad How to Make Pomander Balls

Cloved Orange: A Regency Pomander

7 Health Benefits of Oranges, According to a Nutritionist, written by Cynthia Sass

8 Surprising Health Benefits of Cloves, written by Rachael Link

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