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.
Materials Needed to Make Pomanders
- Firm, fresh oranges or lemons;
- Whole dried cloves;
- Sharp toothpicks or thumbtacks;
- Nylon net
- Pretty ribbon;
- Yarn or more ribbon.
Each student gets to choose a piece of fruit. With a tack or sharp toothpick, make a hole in the fruit and push the stem of a whole clove into the hole. Push firmly to make the clove stay.
Do this all around the piece of fruit. Then, place the fruit inside of a nylon net. Tie the top shut with pretty ribbon.
The pomander can then be hung either around the neck, the waist, or in a closet. Use more ribbon or use yarn to hang the pomander. Tie a large loop of yarn around the tied section of nylon net and place over student’s head.