We say “Erb” – they say ‘Herb”- which is correct? That’s easily the most asked question about herbs. Is the H aspirated or not?
The answer is that is depends upon where you live. If you are in England, do as the British do; aspirate the H. If you are an American, swallow that H; “Erb” is what we say.
There are many herbs related to Christmas. During the holiday season you find small rosemary trees that are often decorated for the holiday season. Legend has it that the rosemary bloomed and bore fruit (out of season) on the night Jesus was born.
The smell of rosemary is a favorite Christmas herb; popular for cooking as well as for decorative uses.
Lavender is associated with the Christmas holidays for several reasons. It is believed that Mary washed Jesus’ swaddling clothes with this fragrant herb. Secondly, it is a favored scent for women’s scented holiday gifts. This herb is also good to add to a bridal bouquet meaning purity and love.
Frankincense is widely known as a gift given to baby Jesus from the Three Kings. Frankincense is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It is commonly added to holy oil that is used for anointing individuals during baptisms.
Myrrh comes from the resin of the Commiphora myrrha tree. It is commonly used as incense in church ceremonies, often during the holidays. It is also one of the gifts given to baby Jesus by the Three Kings. During ancient times, Myrrh was many times more valuable than Frankincense.
Sage is commonly used in culinary dishes. Legend also holds that Mary and baby Jesus hid in a large blooming Sage bush when King Herod was searching for them. For this reason, Sage is known as the herb of immortality.
Bedstraw, also known as the Gallium plant, is an herb that may have been used in baby Jesus’ manager. Bedstraw has a sweet honey aroma that is released when warmed. The herb is also used to make red dye.
Bayberry is also known as Wax Myrtle. The wax found on the fruits of this shrub is often made into candles that are used during the holiday season.
Ginger is used in many forms during the holidays. In powdered form, it is used in many recipes, from cakes to cookies as well as meat dishes. The root may be ground and used in culinary dishes as well. The Ginger root may also be candied or used in the production of Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer, popular drinks during the holiday celebrations.
Cinnamon comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. During Biblical times Moses said the holy anointing oil should be comprised of sweet cinnamon and cassia. Cinnamon was a prized spice and was given as a gift to visiting dignitaries for centuries. Today it is commonly available and is used in a variety of dishes, especially during the holiday season, as well as in decorations for the home.
Depending on where you are from, “Herb” or “Erb, their fragrance is wonderful!
Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in these publications are the work of community volunteers. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of its volunteers, but is pleased to offer this feature to readers.