Living in the Pittsburgh area, Christmas celebrations are a blend of many different ethnicities. During the days before Christmas there is a Peoples Gas Holiday Market in the downtown area, which is patterned after the Christkindlemarkt created in 1545 in Nuremberg, Germany, and the Christkindlmarket in Chicago, Illinois.
The city is also lucky enough to have a replica of the Vatican’s Crèche, which is built in St. Peter’s Square in Rome every year. It is a larger-than-life replica, and it is beautiful. The Herbal Husband and I visited several years ago. It has become a popular tradition for many families to visit this attraction every season. I wanted you to see the Crèche at night. I found a beautiful photo taken by Dr. Dennis Woytek, an assistant professor of Journalism and Multimedia Arts at Duquesne University. Dr. Woytek has a blog, The Woytek Blog, talking about his travels and this Crèche. If you are in the Pittsburgh area, the Crèche is a not-to-be-missed Christmas experience.
Be sure to visit the Pittsburgh Creche at night, when it is at its most beautiful. Photos Courtesy Dr. Dennis Woytek, The Woytek Blog.
This time of year, two of my favorite herbal authors are Adelma Grenier Simmons and Bertha Reppert. Simmons wrote a number of herbal books, but one of my favorites is A Merry Christmas Herbal, which was published in 1968. Simmons considered Christmas to be a season all by itself. In another one of her books, Herb Gardening in Five Seasons, at Caprilands (her famous herb farm) they celebrated Christmas from St. Nicholas Day, December 6, to Twelfth Night, January 6, extending the season.
Find Simmons’ books at BookFinder.com.
These are two of my favorite herb books by Adelma Grenier Simmons. Photo By Nancy Heraud.
Reppert was also prolific in her herbal works. She compiled a series of scrapbooks, one of which is about Christmas. Bertha Reppert’s Herbal Scrapbook #2 was created in 1987 and it is jam-packed with all kinds of recipes and ideas for Christmas. In it she writes “The magic of herbs will guarantee you an unforgettable holiday with memories to treasure.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I recommend this Christmas gem from Bertha Reppert. It is filled with all kinds of recipes and ideas for the holidays. Photo By Nancy Heraud.
Speaking of herbs and Christmastime, here are some herbal legends associated with Christmas and the manger. These first three herbs were known animal insecticides that helped to protect the animals and—as it turned out—the Holy Family while staying in the stable.
Bedstraw was in the stable along with hay the night Christ child was born. Bedstraw bloomed with white flowers and no fragrance. After the birth, the flowers were turned to gold and there was a heavenly fragrance.
Pennyroyal was used by Joseph for the manger because of its minty scent, not for its blossoms. Once the baby was born, it bloomed beautiful purple blossoms ever after for the King of Kings.
Thyme was another herb used in the manger because it gave the manger a sweet, clean scent. It was also a symbol of bravery.
Rosemary is well-known as the Christmas herb. My favorite story of rosemary says that while Mary rested in a grove of rosemary bushes during her flight to Egypt, she laid her cloak out to dry on a white blooming rosemary bush, and her cloak turned the flowers blue.
My potted rosemary has produced some beautiful blue blooms this year. Photo By Nancy Heraud.
In the early days of my blog (Lemon Verbena Lady’s Herb Garden) I wrote about one of my favorite herbal crafts that can decorate during any time of year, but especially at Christmas—"Angels from Nature." If you are looking for a quick herbal craft before the holidays, and you have extra dried herbs and flowers, this would be a fun project for you and your kids or grandkids to do together.
I display my "Angel from Nature" Christmas decoration all year long. Photo By Nancy Heraud.
As always, if you have a comment or question about any of my posts, please write to me here or my email at firstname.lastname@example.org and put in the subject line “Herb Comment or Question.” If you could also let me know where you live in the U.S. (or elsewhere), it will help me answer your herb question more precisely. And be sure to visit my blog Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden. Talk to you soon.