Rosemary. Termed “Rosmarinus officials”, rosemary is an aromatic woody evergreen perennial herb native to the seaside regions of North Africa and the Mediterranean. This fragrant herb presents flat pine needle-like leaves that grow on an evergreen bush. Who knew that rosemary joins the ranks as member of the mint family, Lamiaceae? The name “rosemary” derives from the Latin for “dew” (ros) and “Sea” (marinus), or “Dew of the Sea”. Of note, the ancient legend that rosemary grows “where one can hear the sea”. The Rosemary plant itself is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning “flower”. Rosemary is said to resemble lavender when shimmering blue flowers appear in mid-Winter in native climates. The leaves themselves can often appear to be touched with silver. But commonly green and fragrant, this woody citrus offers so much to our world beyond the culinary and herbal health benefits. Beyond its aromatic offerings this fragrant plant that offers us natural beauty when gracing events of our lives and brought within our interior worlds.
However, the past precedes this coveted plant. It is noted that rosemary held a strong association with ancient Greeks and Romans. “As early as the Fifth millenium B.C. references to rosemary were found written in cuneiform” (the earliest system of writing of wedge shaped slash marks) on stone tablets. Ancient appreciation of an herb, indeed. Coveted for what was believed mystical and healing properties, it was the Roman armies who would eventually bring this herb to Britain. From there, this scented herb would travel through Europe and eventually reach the New World…
“As for rosmarine, I lette it runne all over my garden walls,
not onlie because my bees love it,
but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance,
and, therefore to friendship . . .”
-Sir Thomas More,(Aka Saint Thomas More, (1478-1535) English lawyer, author and stateman
A “rich crown of stone and pearls set with
rosemary in her hair”
-English royalty, Anne of Cleves,King
Henry the Eighth’s fourth wife /1540
Long associated with remembrance of romance and matrimony, rosemary has been used for centuries in courtship and weddings. Oh, the beauty of tradition. In fact, French legend holds that “if a man didn’t like the scent of rosemary, he would be an inferior lover”. Who knew? Empress Josephine is said to have asked Napoleon to wash in rosemary water before entering her bedchamber. The power of an herb, indeed. Interesting that rosemary is said to have been Napoleon’s favorite fragrance. A love affair, indeed.
As for this scented aromatic herb traditionally appearing during the holiday season, perhaps its history can be linked to the entertaining in the Middle ages. It is said that rosemary was spread on the ground so its fragrance would fill the air when guests would walk upon it. The belief was that those would smell rosemary on Christmas Eve would have a year of health and happiness. A tradition of celebration with nature, for certain. It is no wonder that rosemary would continue as a traditional embellishment during the holidays.
In appreciation of the rosemary herb and the adornment of and celebrations of an herb of visual and fragrant delight….
Consider the natural delight of the fragrant and distinctive herb, rosemary. Nature’s bounty offers us the scented delights with which to appreciate. Beyond a mere herb, rosemary will certainly grace our worlds in simplicity with natural beauty. Scented and natural appeal, indeed. Onward to the celebration of life’s moments with the tradition of a fragrant gift of nature…
“There’s Rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember”
– William Shakespeare
(Ophelia to Hamlet)