the ninth day of Christmas

For the ninth day of Christmas, I wanted to look back at the original gifts of Christmas. What do they mean, & where do we find them today?

I think we all know what gold is. For the other two, I was curious to see what appeal they had other than being words of Christmastime. Are there health benefits? What form does it take? Where do we find it?


This was a gift fit for a King, as frankincense “has been one of the world’s most treasured commodities since the beginning of written history. At its peak its value rivaled that of gold, the rarest silks, and the most precious of gems.”*

Listen to the laundry list of magic powers this potion has, courtesy of Scents of Earth:

Recent studies by an international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, have indicated that burning frankincense resin (Boswellia) helps to to alleviate anxiety and depression. The University of Munich found the anti-inflammatory properties of frankincense very effective as a treatment for joint pain and arthritis. The famous eleventh-century Arabian physician, Avicenna, recommended its cooling effects as a remedy for infections and illnesses that increase the body’s temperature.

Scents of Earth also explains that its a “natural insecticide and was used in ancient Egypt to fumigate wheat silos and repel wheat moths.” Perfect for a tiny baby in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger in the dry Arab world, no?

So what’s frankincense doing today?

Same old.

How Stuff Works describes frankincense as a “milky white resin extracted from species of the genus Boswellia, which thrive in arid, cool areas of the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and India.” The trees “have papery bark, sparse bunches of paired leaves, and flowers with white petals and a yellow or red center.”

Like myrrh, frankincense is extracted from trees by stabbing it with a knife. Then, according to the Ananda Apothecary,

The resin forms droplets known as ‘tears’ or ‘pearls’, which harden into the orange-brown gum known itself as Frankincense. The English name of this natural incense is derived from the medieval French ‘franc’, meaning ‘pure’ or ‘free’, and from the Latin ‘incensium’, meaning ‘to smoke’.

Yeah, French smoke! The Apothecary suggests applying the oil to joints to reduce pain or rubbing it into the feet, where it can reach lymph nodes & help the immune system.

Tomorrow, myrrh!


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in being conscious and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to the ninth day of Christmas

  1. Pingback: 12 days of Christmas are coming! | francofile

  2. Pingback: the eleventh day of Christmas | francofile

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