The First Gifts – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. We are all familiar with Gold but what of Frankincense and Myrrh? What were these mystical offerings?

When I came to live in Arabia one of my favourite pastimes was to visit the old souk with all its wonderful sights, sounds and aromas.  The fragrance of sandalwood burning to entice customers to come and buy, mingling with the scent of perfumed oils and rosewater mixed in with the delicious aroma of little savoury pastries being cooked. All this was heady stuff to a girl fresh out of the Welsh valleys in the United Kingdom!

One of  the stalls in particular would intrigue me, the friendly merchant was selling things I had never seen before. Laid out before me were little mounds of aromatic powders, resins, herbs, plants and spices. But the language barrier prevented me from learning what these things were. One day many years later when I had learned a little of the language I decided to talk to the old man who ran the stall to try and find out just what it was he  was selling. I wrote down the local names of some of these things and went home to start my research. Two of these names translated into words that evoked magical stories from my childhood Sunday school classes. On that dusty stall in an old Arabian souk I had stumbled upon Frankincense and Myrrh! The gifts brought by the Magi – the three wise men Melchior, Balthasar and Caspar to be presented to the new born baby Jesus over two thousand years ago.

I made my way back to the market and found the stall again, I was overcome with emotion, here were the long forgotten mystical substances that two thousand years ago were considered important enough to be presented to the new-born Messiah. I felt an immediate connection to that stable in Bethlehem where a mother and her new-born baby welcomed the three kings bearing their precious gifts.

Since that day I have further researched these two magical substances and have found out that Frankincense is a resin from the Boswellia Sacra tree – a tree that has grown on the inhospitable slopes of the Arabian Sea for thousands of years. It was and still is used as incense, it was thought to aid the transport of prayer to heaven.  Frankincense has been one of the world’s most treasured commodities since the beginning of written history. At its peak its value rivaled that of gold, the rarest silks, and the most precious of gems.

Myrrh is resin from the Commiphora Myrrha tree. In ancient times Myrrh was among the most valuable substances known. It was used as incense and also processed into oil. It was used in the mummification of the Pharaohs in ancient Egypt and to anoint kings. 

I decided then that I couldn’t possibly keep this wonderful chance discovery to myself, so now you have the opportunity to share these precious long forgotten treasures with me and to present them as special unique gifts to your loved ones. Sadly, that old market stall and its friendly wizened owner is no longer there so today we bring our supplies from source -  Frankincense from Oman and Myrrh from The Yemen. They are the finest grades available. Beware of cheaper grades being sold elsewhere as these usually come from Somalia and India and cannot compare to the Arabian resins in quality and fragrance.