Sunday, January 6, 2013

Magi arrive today with frankincense and myrrh

IMPORTANT UPDATE:  Read here  how botanist Dr Elaine Solowey is currently nurturing a fragile frankincense tree sapling in Kibbutz Ketura, after the plant has been absent from Israel for 1,500 years!

". . . And there it was—the star they had seen in the east! It led them until it came and stopped above the place where the child was.  
10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed beyond measure.  
11 Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary His mother, and falling to their knees, they worshiped Him. 
Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
--Matthew 2

January 6, the Feast of Epiphany, the day the Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem. 
Happy Epiphany, Christian friends! 

These days frankincense and myrrh are readily available in spice shops in Jerusalem's Old City. 
You're welcome to see my older posts:

UPDATE: I realized I didn't know how they were made.  Here is the answer from How Stuff Works:

"Derived from tree sap, or gum resin, both frankincense and myrrh are prized for their alluring fragrance.
Frankincense is 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 finest and most aromatic of this species is Boswellia sacra, a small tree that grows in Somalia, Oman and Yemen. . . .
Myrrh is a reddish resin that comes from species of the genus Commiphora, which are native to northeast Africa and the adjacent areas of the Arabian Peninsula. Commiphora myrrha, a tree commonly used in the production of myrrh, can be found in the shallow, rocky soils of Ethiopia, Kenya, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Somalia. . . .

The processes for extracting the sap of Boswellia (for frankincense) and Commiphora (for myrrh) are essentially identical.
Harvesters make a longitudinal cut in the tree's trunk, which pierces gum resin reservoirs located within the bark.
 The sap slowly oozes from the cut and drips down the tree, forming tear-shaped droplets that are left to harden on the side of the tree. 
These beads are collected after two weeks."
The fascinating article continues here with more about the historical AND modern uses of frankincense and myrrh!


  1. Thank you Dina. I attended my first Anglican Ephiphany service this morning . . . complete with incense, the wise men placed in the creche at the altar, and Christmas carols.

  2. Must be something on an adventure to smell, taste or even look at all these colours from so far away. Thank you for this nice journey.

  3. In 1975 I spent the holiday season in Puerto Rico. There they celebrate 3 Kings Day. The kids leave straw and water under their beds for the camels of the kings. They receive their presents on 3 King's Day.

    An Arkies Musings

  4. such gifts for a very small King!
    I am not worldly in that I never imagined being able to buy frankincense and myrrh nowadays. I love your blog for what I'm learning.

  5. Myrrh is the supreme air / mind purifier, Dina

    from Honolulu,
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° >
    > < } } ( ° >
    > < 3 3 3 ( ' >

  6. So that's what they look like. Wonder what they are used for these days.

  7. Thanks for this fascinatingly informative post, Dina. And I thought frankincense and myrrh were spices—you know, for food. Talk about lazy. [rolls eyes at self]

  8. I never really knew what these were but assumed spices.

  9. I do not know much about spices, thanks for the lesson and the links!

  10. Well, Dina I didn't know this. That's very interesting.I know what frankincense smells when my children burn incense sticks. But I have never seen myrrh. I missed them in Tasmania. The fires there started when we had left. So horrible!

  11. I wonder why we are so reluctant to celebrate these things here ..
    Thanks for your informative post, as always Dina:-)

  12. Yes we packed up the Christmas tree on the Epiphany.

  13. I've never smelled those fragrances. Gosh! They probably had it at those bazaars in Turkey and Egypt and I missed an opportunity.


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