Originally Published On http://www.cafleurebon.com 12 December, 2017
Hannukah perfumes? We will get to that … first some history….
Almost every religion worldwide has a winter celebration dedicated to the return of the light in the dark days of winter. After the Roman Saturnalia or Solstice celebrations, the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is one of the oldest celebrations dedicated to bringing light into the darkness at this time of year. Hanukah however, is one of the few instances where the celebratory occurrence is based on provable fact. Almost a full century before Yeshua Ben-Yusuf (Jesus of Joseph) walked and preached in the city of Jerusalem, Yehuda Ha Makabi (modern translation Judah Maccabee) was born in approximately 190 BCE; the third son of a Jewish priest from a small town 20 miles outside of Jerusalem. As a child of the Jewish faith, Judah was no stranger to the anti-semitism that was rampant throughout Palestine. Judaism was not allowed to be practiced in Galilee by order of the Seleucid (Hellenistic) empire, who went so far as to replace all the statuary in the great temple of Jerusalem with Hellenistic gods, goddesses, and rulers, an unthinkable act of desecration. The uprising to take back the temple, originally led by Judah’s father, lasted for years and was taken over by Judah upon his father’s death.Don’t worry we’ll get to Hanukkah Perfumes…
After three years of battle and countless losses, and backed by his ragtag yet fearless band of followers called the Maccabees, Judah managed to retake the temple on December 14th 164 BCE. Before the great temple could be used for worship Judah knew that the temple needed to be re-sanctified to the one true God, however the temple had been completely trashed by the Roman troops. Almost nothing was left of the original structure but some walls and the falling-in ceiling. Digging through the rubble, Judah managed to find a battered and scratched oil lamp to use for the sanctification ceremony. The problem was that after three years of battle, supplies were scarce and there was only a tiny bit of oil left to burn in the lamp for the service, less than a day’s worth. Wonder of wonders, that small bit of oil miraculously burned for 8 days and 8 nights. the holiday of Hanukkah is in celebration and commemoration of both the Seleucid defeat by the Maccabees and the miracle of the oil lasting so long.
In remembrance of that victory and minor miracle, the festival of Hanukkah is a time to celebrate light in the darkness, strength and success despite unsurmountable odds and of course family and food. Candles are lit every night for 8 nights (one the first night, two the second night and so on) and a ninth candle called the Shamash is lit every night and used to light the other eight, as a nod to an early Semitic solar deity (Samas) who was worshipped for driving away evil and bringing justice and compassion.
To this day the traditions of Hanukkah are universal.The Hanukkah candles are held in candelabra known as a Menorah whose design is based on one used by Moses three hundred years earlier to create “sanctuary” while wandering through the desert.
Presents are given every night, songs and prayers are sung and frivolity prevails. Dinner is focused on foods fried in oil (to commemorate the miracle of the oil), usually Latkes (potato pancakes topped with either sour cream, fresh applesauce or both) and jelly donuts for dessert which are consumed ravenously. Children love to play with a top known as as dreidel in a give-and-take quasi-gambling kind of game, the prize is often Hanukkah gelt; often truly awful old milk chocolate wrapped in gold foil resembling gold coins.
So now we get to the Hanukkah perfumes. Well, if you’re lucky (and your spouse/or special someone) just happens to have an empty credit card or two) you may end up with eight new bottles of fragrance by the last night of the holiday, one for each night of the holiday. Most importantly however is the realization that many of the ingredients used in 164 BCE as anointing oils (perfumes) for ceremonial purposes and also by citizens to help mask the overwhelming scent of day to day life, sweat, dirt, barnyard type odors and of course effluvia, are still in use today. The Talmud (the Jewish “rule book” if you will) stresses the importance of scenting by stating “Fragrance is that which the soul benefits from, and the body does not.”, and offers 5 different prayers for various scent genres i.e; floral, woods and bark, herbs etc… and a generic blessing for other unattributed scents…
So to honor that momentous occasion which this year falls ON December 12th at sundown, I present “The Eight (Plus One) Hanukkah Perfumes, all still use a predominant ingredient from over 2000 years ago…
Myrrh: Caron Parfum Sacre– One of my favorite Myrrh-bombs, Caron Parfum Sacre is resinous and heavy with incense, and that Myrrh which is like being wrapped is the oft-described soft cashmere blanket. Classic and unforgettable.
Honey: 4160Tuesdays Centrepiece Extrait– I recently realized that I owned more bottles of 4160Tuesdays perfume, second only to Guerlain, I just love Sarah McCartney’s work that much. Centrepiece Extrait is the star of my collection, a pure parfum that’s like being dipped in wild honey lashed with tea, vanilla, musk, and the beautiful floral scent of frangipani.
Balm Of Gilead (Cottonwood):Komorebi by Ayala Moriel– Ayala Moriel makes perfumes that capture the essence of place. Her perfumes based on Pacific Northwest themes are absolutely photorealistic, and Komorebi an ambery-chypre is no exception with its dominant cottonwood (Balm Of Gilead) note. You can just imagine what the trees of Galilee must’ve smelled like when you wear this beautiful concoction.
Sweet Cane (Calamus):Carthago Delenda Est by Villa of the Mysteries– Based upon a Roman perfume straight out of the annals of antiquity, Carthago Delenda Est (Carthage must be destroyed), is an olfactive time machine back to the BCE. Calamus, fig, and rose and you’d best don your toga, because this perfume will have you believing that you are there. A sublime recreation.
Frankincense (Olibanum):Anubis by Papillon– Smoky, leather, and animalic, Anubis created by British perfumer Liz Moores might just be one of the sexiest scents around. Just when you think it can’t get any more incense and leather heavy, beautiful indolic florals turn the perfume into a true slice of heaven.
Cinnamon: Sienna by DSH Perfumes– Dawn Spencer Hurwitz describes her Sienna Perfume as “A cinnamon étude that is actually a soft oriental gourmand with accent notes of basmati rice and white oak wood. It’s both warming and woody with a delightful zing of spice.
Aloes: Mukhallat Bushi Sensei by Abdul Karim Al Faransi– Abdul Karim Al Faransi based in Birmingham, UK, was one of my favorite discoveries of last year. Anthony Karim the owner and nose has managed to take Arabian fragrance oils to a whole new level. Mukhallat Bushi Sensi is a fruity-green scent redolent of tropical fruits, aloe, and Oudh and is absolutely unforgettable. His 6 ml. Bottles will last you forever, at a cost that’s less than a fast food meal.
Styrax (Benzoin): Memoir Woman by Amouage– When talking about high-end luxury Middle Eastern fragrances, Amouage always tops the list. The ingredients, the masterful blending, there are so many masterpieces in the range, and Memoir Woman is no exception. Centered on a Wormwood note (think Absinthe and the green fairy) this beauty is smoky, spicy, and floral goodness all sitting on a gorgeous benzoin, moss, and leather base. An amazing Oriental that in 2010 conceived by Creative Director, Christopher Chong that changed what a “woman’s fragrance” should smell like.
And the Ninth candle represents:FOOD!!
Black Currant Sufganiyot by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab– Sufganiyot is the quintessential Hanukkah sweet treat, essentially a fried (oil, of course) jelly donut sprinkled with caster sugar. BPAL’s annual limited edition for 2017 is exactly that, the perfect olfactive representation of a deep fried black currant jelly donut; the scent is so delectable you’ll want to chew your arm off.
Happy Hanukkkah, Chanukah, Hanukah… however you spell it. From all of us to all of you.
Robert Herrmann, Senior Editor
Art Direction, Michelyn Camen: Celebrating Hanukkah on CaFleureBon has been a tradition since 2011
For our Draw:
USA ONLY: Thanks to Europerfumes we have a 50 ml bottle of Amouage Memoir Woman perfume
EU, USA and Canada: L’Chaim to Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays for 30 ml of Centrepiece
USA and Canada: From our friend Paula Pulvino of Villa of The Mysteries 30 ml of Carthago Delenda Est
USA: DSH Perfumes 1 oz Sienna EDP
We have Hanukkah perfumes for four registered readers, so be sure to register if you have not done so. To be eligible please let us know what you learned about Hanukkah, which pefumes you would like to win (as many as your are eligible and where you live. Draw closes on 12/16/2017
We announce the winners only on our website and on our Facebook page, so like Cafleurebon and use our site feed…or your dream prize will be just spilled perfume.