The word "pomander" comes from the French "pomme," which means apple. Today, when we hear the word pomander we think of a clove-studded fruit. Pomanders are used in modern times to keep closets smelling fresh. In other times, such as the Elizabethan era, they were worn by people, either on a chain around the neck or around the waist.
Elizabeth I wore a pomander. The wealthy could afford pomanders made of gold and other precious materials. The golden case was crafted to look like an apple, and was filled with sweet smelling spices or aromatic herbal mixtures. People believed that some of the herbs in pomanders would ward off disease.
People in the Elizabethan era did not like to take baths. The common belief was that a bath could make you sick. In the wintertime, people were literally sewn into their long underwear (a flap on the back was kept closed with buttons.) So, wearing a pomander had real benefits. Pomanders kept the air smelling sweet.
By the 17th century, pomanders became associated with Christmas and New Year's traditions. Even today, many families include oranges in their Christmas stockings.
When studying the Elizabethan era, have fun with your class making pomanders and discussing their cultural significance.