It is a common sight in homes, shops, and churches during Christmas time – a thatched shed-like structure, topped off by a bright, glittering star, with figurines of a female in blue and white, a male in shepherd’s clothing next to her, and that of a little baby nestled in the hay. There are also animals, and three other men, in regal attire, holding presents. This is a depiction of the birth of Jesus, in a humble manger somewhere in the town of Bethlehem in Judea. The supernatural celestial phenomenon, that we simply call the ‘Star of Bethlehem’ guided the three wise Magi from the East, to Jesus.
Balthazar, from Arabia, presented a gift of myrrh. The Persian Melchior brought gold, and the Indian king Gaspar brought frankincense. These gifts were not just precious commodities of the time. They had a deeper significance. The gold represented Jesus’ regal status as the true king. Frankincense was for His divine nature as the Son of God, born of a virgin mother. Myrrh represented His human nature; and His future destiny to live amongst common men, and eventually die, and be immortalised for their redemption.
It is such a coincidence, (or is it?) that in the world of self-care, grooming, and beauty, gold, frankincense, and myrrh are all celebrated for their cleansing, healing, and anti-ageing properties.
Frankincense and myrrh are popular remedies in skincare, as they are both powerful antiseptics and antioxidants. They heal wounds, and lighten scars, tighten and smooth out enlarged pores, and lift the skin, preventing premature ageing. Their fragrance has a mysteriously sacred and intriguing quality, used to induce a sense of meditative relaxation.
There are other Christmas time health and beauty gifts you can give yourself, and they are probably hiding in your pantry cupboard right now!
• Cinnamon and Nutmeg:
Nutmeg has anti-inflammatory properties, and is used in Ayurvedic skin remedies for clogged pores, and oil control. It has B-complex vitamins, and vitamins A and C, which aid healthy skin regeneration; making brighter, and iridescent from inside. Cinnamon is a natural astringent, and contains Vitamin K, the skin healing vitamin, which improves blood circulation, calms redness and swelling, heals bruises and scars, helps lighten stretch marks, and reduces under-eye dark circles. Cinnamon, nutmeg, honey, and lemon, is a popular DIY cleansing mask recipe, for an even complexion, and reduced acne flare ups. It is however, not recommended for Rosacea prone skin.
Ginger works in a manner similar to cinnamon and nutmeg on skin, and is a great toner, and booster for skin elasticity. It also reduces painful swelling, especially the kind associated with open wounds. Ginger does wonders for blood circulation, and reduction of dandruff in the scalp, promoting healthy, bountiful hair growth. Grated ginger can be used with mustard or olive oils in a hair mask, or with cane sugar and lemon as a skin exfoliator.
This aromatic herb is a popular seasoning choice for hearty stews and soups, and stuffed or roasted meats and vegetables. Botanically related to mint, rosemary is very effective for sun-damaged skin, and is a natural antiseptic and astringent agent. It promotes healthy hair growth, because it is a potent stimulant for hair follicles. It tackles dryness, premature greying, dandruff, and balding too. You can use a stimulating hair oil with Rosemary such as Bringadi or even add a handful of sprigs to a bottle of Sweet Almond Oil for winter-time conditioning, strength, and healthy growth. Or, you can infuse your apple cider vinegar and water tonic mixture with some rosemary, to use as a post-shampoo rinse. Rosemary helps to prevent droopiness in skin, and improves its surface texture and tautness. Using rosemary as a diffuser oil or fragrance helps anxiety and stress, is known to improve memory, and to energise the mind, body, and spirit. It is helpful to have a bottle of good quality, pure Rosemary essential oil handy by your bedside table or in your cabinet. Make brisk massaging into thinning/balding patches a nocturnal habit, as this actually improves the quality of hair growth over time.
All of these Christmas aromatics can be quite pungent, and assertive in their olfactory and tactile impact. If you haven’t used them before, it is advised that you begin with cautious amounts to gauge the reactivity of your skin and hair to them, till you are confident about what ratios work for you.