Bless others this season with a reminder of the true reason to celebrate with this favor or gift. Place samples of frankincense & myrrh in small bags tied together with a gold ribbon and label to identify each symbol plus suggested uses - burn as incense, include in crèche or display in gold container!
In the ancient world, gold, frankincense and myrrh were the three most precious things known to man and frankincense and myrrh were the most important ancient fragrances. Both frankincense and myrrh are native to Africa & Arabia and came as imports along well established incense routes to the Mediterranean and on throughout Europe. Both are mentioned numerous times in the Bible and were used primarily to make holy incense to burn in the temple, but they were also gifts of the Magi brought to Jesus Christ along with gold to celebrate his birth and symbolize his life.
Gold – a symbol of royalty.
Frankincense (Boswellia thurifera) – a symbol of priesthood - is a fragrant shrub with compound leaves of numerous small leaflets , a twiggy habit and greenish white flowers tipped with pink which grows in barren soil on rocky hillsides and ravines. Its gummy resin is extracted by making an incision in the bark allowing the droplets to ooze out and form “tears” which are scraped off when dried. This costly and fragrant white resin is usually burned on charcoal and emits a sweet aromatic smoke. It was also used in all ancient civilizations as medicine having anti-infectious, antiseptic, and sedative properties as well as a perfume. In addition, Egyptian women used charred Frankincense, kohl, to paint their eyelids.
Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) – a symbol of sacrificial death - is a thorny tree which grows 30 feet tall with knotted branches, musty smelling leaves and white flowers. The resin obtained by making cuts in the bark is a yellowish fluid which hardens and changes to dark red or even black. It has a penetrating aroma and balsamic scent and a bitter taste. In addition to its use in religious ceremonies, myrrh was also used in fumigations, embalming, as a healing agent and as perfume. Greek soldiers carried myrrh as an essential part of their combat gear due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and use to prevent the spread of gangrene. It is still used in toothpastes and mouthwashes as well as in salves to promote healing of wounds and to reduce inflammation.
“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary,
and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts
of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”