Herbs have been used for thousands of years, and paintings of herbs have even been found in prehistoric caves. It’s no surprise that they were in use during the time of Jesus since they were a part of the landscape of the mediterranean region.
After reading an article about Rosemary and it’s significance at Christmas I was surprised to find that Rosemary, or the rose of the Virgin Mary, had a history in this Christmas story as well. It was often strewn in houses to repel insects, and herbal lore tells us it was strewn by Joseph in the hay of the manager to keep insects off the baby Jesus. Rosemary was also believed to have bloomed out of season on Midnight Christmas Eve. It’s normally white blossoms turned blue, and it’s scent is said to have come from the bedclothes of Jesus, the Christ Child, which Mary had draped over the bush.
Known as the herb of “remembrance”, Rosemary was strewn on the floor at Christmas during the Middle Ages. When it was walked on , a pleasant scent was released. More uses for rosemary can be found in centuries old books and include:
- Place the leaves under your bed and you will be delivered of evil dreams
- Place the leaves in a box, smelling often, and your youth will be preserved.
- If you are feeble, boil the leaves in clean water, and wash yourself. You will shine.
Rosemary is an herb that belongs in every garden. It is a woody, perennial herb that can grow as high as 5 feet, so plan your placement in your garden carefully. It’s flowers can be white, pink, or blue, and it grows as a perennial in zones 7 and warmer. It will need to pruned regularly to prevent it from getting lanky. It needs full sun, and cannot tolerate over watering. If you want to know more about growing Rosemary, Burpee’s has a great article here.
I love the folklore that surrounds herbs and plants. I often reach for my book “China Bayles Book of Days” It is 365 celebrations of the mystery myth, and magic of Herbs. It is written by Susan Wittig Albert, who is the author of the China Bayles Mysteries.
You can get your copy by clicking below. This is a fascinating book with little known information about herbs.
You may also enjoy reading my article on how to grow yarrow and see some great pictures from my visit to Lavender and Rust Herb Farm.
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Terri Steffes says
I love rosemary so much! We use it all the time. I did not know the story of the connection to Christmas.
Vivian Bowers says
Thanks so much for that information. Did not know the connection of Rosemary to Christmas
Susan Brandt says
I love Rosemary. The scent is wonderful. I enjoyed ready your story. Really great post.
C Renee C Fuller says
I love my rosemary! and never thought of it at Christmas. Thanks for sharing