Christmas oranges and personal holiday traditions

Preamble: This is from way back in the archives, originally posted on December 24, 2003. It makes me realize that I have accumulated a small number of little holiday season traditions, and setting out a little basket of oranges, with or without the clove-covered ones, is one of them. And check out that dodgy photo! I was going to switch it out with a more recent, better shot one, but then - no, I decided to leave it as-is for old time's sake.

What are your personal holiday traditions? Please share them in the comments!

(Below is the original post from 5 years ago.)


This isn't a recipe really, but nothing says Christmas to me as much as the smell of oranges and spices. Oranges, or clementines, remind me of the oranges that used to be in my Christmas stocking, together with the chocolates and sweets and other goodies. And the smell of cinnamon and cloves is that of mulled cider and other things that we enjoy at this time of year.

The clove "pomanders" are actually oranges or apples that are totally covered with whole cloves, then rolled in ground cinnamon. It helps to pierce the skin with a wooden skewer or toothpick first before sticking a clove in, but the clove stem should fit snugly. The pomanders dry and retain their spicy-fruity fragrance for years. (Actually they take forever to make, so you could start now for next Christmas!)

Merry Christmas!

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Christmas oranges

I looove your blog! It's really wonderful, all those recipes! I have a cooking and food blog also, but it's in portuguese. Congratulations! BTW: loved those "cloved" oranges.

Laura | 6 January, 2004 - 22:47

Christmas oranges

Hello, surfed in by way of not martha and I think I'll be here a lot: I love food and talking and reading about food.

Anyway, I'm made pomanders with oranges and I made patterns with the cloves instead of covering the whole thing and it still dries out nicely. Saves a bit of time and cloves and looks pretty.

Jen | 14 March, 2004 - 09:48

Christmas oranges

Jen, thanks for visiting! And thanks for the tip about not having to cover the whole orange too. It is quite a chore to complete - always seems to be bald spot left. :)

maki | 14 March, 2004 - 16:16

the reason for Oranges?

I notice that everywhere at Christmastime everyone displays oranges or clementines and peanuts for Christmas. I’m always forgetting to ask any Swiss friends about it, but perhaps you might have an explanation for this tradition? What is the significance? It doesn’t happen in Malaysia, nor is it a tradition in New Zealand where I lived previously.

Bell | 17 December, 2008 - 12:37

Oranges and Christmas

I think it’s because in the olden days, oranges were very prized fruit. They are also in season in the winter, but don’t grow in colder climates in the northern hemisphere of course , unless under protected conditions; every grand house in the 18th-19th century had an Orangerie to grow oranges and lemons for the household. Plus they are very festive in color! I think that’s why oranges (together with nuts, dried fruit, etc.) became associated with Christmas.

I have to say that they don’t really associate oranges with Christmas in Japan either, because they’ve always been pretty cheap and plentiful in the winter (well the satsuma / clementine / tangerine types anyway), so when I would get a tangerine in my Christmas stocking in England, I was always disappointed!

maki | 17 December, 2008 - 14:06

merry christmas!

maki, the photo is lovely. i buy my satsumas from the neighbor’s stand/stall where you just drop your coin in a box. how do you call that stand/stall in nihongo? thanks. as for personal holiday traditions, my family spends the holidays together at home eating, watching tv/movies, reading books, lounging around, and just spending time with each other. i am looking forward to going back to the philippines for my two-week vacation.
merry christmas to you maki, your family, and JH/JB followers!

banana | 18 December, 2008 - 01:50

Re: Christmas oranges and personal holiday traditions

In our country any fruit is associated in Christmas Season. This is put on the table with a basket or in any fruit holder. It makes the season colorful and it is one implication of a blessing on the table/

yaelA | 7 October, 2010 - 11:40

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