There are many herbs associated with the Christmas holiday. The reason is that herbs lend theirselves to craft making. They are colorful, fragrant, and hold up well.
One of our popular decoration that has been passed from generation to generation is the manger scene, sometimes called the crèche. By putting up the small figures of Mary, Joseph, shepherds and wise men the story of the very first Christmas to told. We always had a manger set up in the house at Christmas. It was my favorite part of the holidays, setting it up.
If you haven’t done this before use these six herbs below to add to the meaning of the story and the manger. These herbs are steeped in legend and lore of the travel to Bethlehem.
Instead of using straw create a scene with aromatic herbs that bring a new twist and history to the story.
v Our Lady’s Bedstraw – a fine feathery herb with a golden cast. This is called the herb of protection. This herb was placed in the manger to soften the straw. Plant it in the spring and snip off sprigs to dry for manger herbs or purchase from an herbal supplier.
v Thyme – the tiny herb of courage comes in many varieties from lemon scented to wooly to creeping thymes. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs! Snip off stems and add to the bedstraw for a fragrant reminder of the courage of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
v Rosemary – beautiful, aromatic and elegant. The legend tells that as the Holy family fled Egypt all around them bushes crackled, except one…rosemary. Rosemary remained silent. Rosemary has a rich history and is known as the herb of remembrance. Another legend states that Mary placed her cloak over a rosemary shrub and the flowers turned a lovely blue to match the mantle.
v Lavender – a favorite herb of Mary, lavender has a wonderful scent and just passing my releases its fragrance. It is known as the herb of cleanliness, purity and virtue. Include buds of purple lavender in the manger. These can be saved from your garden or purchased at any craft shop or flower shop.
v Rue – Has beautiful blue-green foliage and should be a part of the manger herb potpourri. It is the herb of grace, and symbolizes virtue, driving away all that is evil.
Our Lady’s Mantle – a soft light green in color. It is said to be shaped Mary’s mantle with scallops around the edge. Dry or press a few of the leaves to use in the manger scene.
We were told this story Christmas eve in our house. I have many wonderful memories of the family sitting in the livingroom with the lights off and candles burning hearing about Joseph and Mary.