One of the most sought-after flavours in the world, ginger was one of the earliest members of the spice trade. Derivative of the word singabera, meaning ‘shaped like a horn’ in Sanskrit, it has been used in Eastern culture as a medicinal root for at least 5,000 years, as well as Ancient Greece and Rome, before reaching Europe in the Middle Ages.
Originating from the tropical rainforests of southern Asia, ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae family, alongside turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It is a flowering plant, but its root holds its infamous flavour and zing. Containing gingerol, a closely related group of aromatic compounds, ginger brings a potent bite to the air.
Soothing and warm, its anti-inflammatory properties have long been utilised to reduce nausea, ease digestion and clear sinuses. The smell calls to mind the natural remedies administered as a child, before anything more serious was explored. A steaming mug of lemon, honey and ginger was the answer to any lingering colds, and even though the taste was spicy and strange, it was a welcome relief from the winter viruses doing their rounds at school.
The smell of ginger – warm, peppery and with a hint of citrus – is incredibly diverse. Long used in aromatherapy to enliven the body and the mind, its potency is perfect for dark, frosty mornings as a natural awakener. Sharp and punchy, a hot cup of ginger and galangal tea is enough to snap the senses into action and encourage life and energy after a long night’s sleep. In winter, mornings are often overcast and dull, but it is the tantalising fragrance of ginger that can energise your day.
As part of British culture, ginger makes us think of freshly baked gingerbread, intricately iced and proudly displayed in the windows of local bakeries. A staple sight in many market towns across the UK, gingerbread showcases hundreds of years of skill and craftsmanship, proudly passed down through generations of townspeople. The gingerbread man folktale, and his infamous line “Run, run as fast as you can! You can’t catch me. I’m the Gingerbread Man!”, has been recounted at many a child’s bedside since 1875, and his character has been widely used in children’s literature and entertainment ever since.
But it is at Christmas that this scent really comes to life. A subtle participant in the spicy aromas of the season, ginger creates the stickiest of cakes and the chunkiest of cookies, all lovingly baked in the heart of the home. It is a time for the family to come together and get creative, fingers encased in flour and cookie cutters at the ready. Once assembled, the tray is popped cautiously into the oven and the timer is set, as the children pile around the oven window, unable to tear themselves away from the excitement of it all. The smell fills the kitchen, trickling through into the rest of the house, and at once, ginger becomes synonymous with family, the home and those moments, however small or simple, we spend with our loved ones in the run up to Christmas.
Before the festive season truly kicks in, ginger’s unique aroma of spicy and sweet is the perfect way to introduce some Yuletide magic into the home. Its sharpness is uplifting, especially if you’re already feeling the effects of winter, but it can be used all year round to invigorate your home.
If you’ve been inspired by our nostalgic dive into homemade gingerbread, then try Scandinavisk’s JUL Candle, a heartfelt, warming blend of fragrances that awaken the essence of family at Christmastime. Boy Smells also have a limited ‘Holiday’ edition of their Redhead Scented Candle, grounded in the fruity and festive notes of the season. Alternatively, The Holy Ficus Candle from D.S. & Durga is a more contemporary scent, delivering the woodiness of the ginger root, alongside fig, cardamom, frankincense and saffron, to radiate warmth throughout the home.
For a comprehensive list of all our ‘ginger’ candles, shop the fragrance here. Alternatively, if the smell of ginger means something special to you, then we’d love to hear about it in the comments below!