The inimitable, sweet, and spicy aroma of cinnamon evokes cozy mornings of homemade pastries and steaming mugs of mulled cider or wine. It is the incomparable calling card of the colder weather that leads into those holidays celebrated during the chilly months of winter. From gingerbread to rugelach, there is no other ingredient that more embodies the warmth of the season than cinnamon.
Once upon a time, this spice was worth more than gold. Native to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), true cinnamon, Cinnamomum zeylanicum, dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C. and is still known as kwai in the Cantonese language today. Its botanical name derives from the Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, meaning fragrant spice plant. Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several tree species from the genus Cinnamomum. In the 17th and 18th centuries, control of the island of Ceylon went from the Portuguese to the Dutch to the French to the English, all parties fighting to monopolize the spice that, at that time, could mostly be found only there. This battle for cinnamon supremacy, and the total subjugation of the island’s poor laboring Chalia caste to meet unreasonable quotas, ended in 1833, when it was discovered that it could be easily grown in such areas as Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Mauritius, Réunion, and Guyana. Cinnamon is now also grown in South America, the West Indies, and other tropical climates.
Records of cinnamon use date as far back as early as 2,000 B.C. Obviously, our ancestors were not fighting over cinnamon because they needed to make Babka or Snickerdoodles. Today we may associate the scent and flavor with Western Holiday season, but historically, this spice had so many other uses that have been lost with the passage of time
Medieval physicians utilized cinnamon in medicines to treat ailments such as coughing, hoarseness, and sore throats. The spice was also valued for its preservative qualities for meat due to the phenols which inhibit the bacteria responsible for spoilage, with the added bonus being the strong cinnamon aroma masked the stench of aged meats. It is perhaps this quality that led to Ancient Egyptians using cinnamon in their embalming process. Cinnamon is even mentioned in the Old Testament as an ingredient in anointing oil.
Today, we typically encounter two types of commercial cinnamon: Ceylon and cassia cinnamon. Cassia cinnamon is primarily produced in Indonesia and has a stronger smell and flavor of the two varieties. This less expensive option is what can usually be found everywhere from grocery to discount stores for sprinkling on apple pies or French toast. The more costly Ceylon cinnamon, most of which is still produced in Sri Lanka, has a milder, sweeter flavor popular for both baking and flavoring coffee or hot chocolate. Cinnamon oil is available distilled from tree bark (cinnamon bark essential oil) or from the leaves (cinnamon leaf essential oil). The chemical composition of the two oils is different. Either can be used for aromatherapy purposes, though they have differing strengths.
None of these facts really describe the enchanting, delicious effect this pungent power player can have on a home. The scent of cinnamon alone has been proven to have many mood-enhancing, therapeutic properties. The emotional benefits include invigoration, benevolence, strength, energy, confidence, motivation, and generosity—all lovely enhancements for a holiday party or cozy night of gift wrapping. Physiologically, the scent of cinnamon relieves tension, steadies nerves, invigorates the senses, and acts as an aphrodisiac. The oil may improve appetite and aid digestion.
Sanari uses its whole cinnamon essential oil in its fragrance recipes to showcase its qualities for the greatest overall effect. The Biscotti candle would be too sweet if not for the pop of cinnamon added for zip. If a person is looking for the scent of cookies without the calories, Biscotti is THAT comforting.
Trentino could be described as Biscotii’s sexy sibling. Sophisticated and sensual, this is the candle for date night or intimate holiday parties where everyone dresses in sparkles and frills. Considering the alleged aphrodisiac qualities of cinnamon, vanilla and clove add balance to a fragrance that can be enjoyed as a couple or with friends.
With so many of us being apart this holiday, every little thing we can do to put us in a happier, merrier frame of mind should be considered. Consider lighting a festive candle that reminds you of Hannukahs or Christmases past, or make new memories scented by these thoughtful, elegant fragrances to remind you of how precious our time together is.