(Author of the award-winning Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile.)
Considering unrefrigerated food, people’s infrequent full baths, chamber pots, odors from horses and other animals, and the fact that people wore shifts throughout several days and nights, can you imagine the odors that must have assaulted the noses of colonial Americans?
Or were they so acclimated to the smells that they didn’t notice? Apparently not.
Many colonists doused handkerchiefs with rosewater or other perfumes, or carried pomanders. A pomander, from the French pomme d'ambre, means apple of amber.
|Venetian woman wearing a pomander chain around her waist.|
Europeans carried nosegays, which were small, hand-held flower bouquets. They have existed in some form since at least medieval times.
|A tussie-mussie, nosegay brooch|
Posy brooches, or tussie-mussies as they were called in Victorian times, came in all shapes and sizes and enabled people to pin the flowers at the waist, the shoulder, or in the hair.
The term nosegay came about in fifteenth-century Middle English as a combination of nose and gay (gay meaning "ornament"). So, a nosegay was an ornament that appeals to the nose or nostrils.
You will need:
• apple, orange, or lemon
• whole cloves
• ground cinnamon
• gallon-sized ziplock bag
• Prick holes in an apple, orange, or lemon using the toothpick. You can cover the fruit in rows or you can make the holes in a pattern.
• Push a whole clove into each of the holes you made, so that the top of the clove sits on the surface of the fruit.
• Tie a ribbon around the fruit, making a knot or bow at the top of the fruit with a streamer.
• Hang the fruit in a cool, dry place for several weeks until the pomander is hard and dry.
• Hang the pomander in a room or fill a bowl with several of them and enjoy the sweet, fragrant arrangement.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, when people stepped out of their houses into the filthy, smelly streets, they would wear vinaigrettes, which were jewelry pieces that held vinegar-soaked sponges. If the odors of the streets were so strong that people felt faint, they would sniff the vinaigrette.