F is for Frankincense

Medieval portrait of the magi, from the Orthodox Life blog site.

We Three Kings of Orient Are
Tried to Smoke a Great, Big Cigar…

A 8-year-old’s parody of a famous Christmas carol…

What, you are dismayed? You don’t remember that one? Did you remember the one about Chinese and Egyptian astrologers taking African bark scrapings into the alleyway behind the Marriott, where the illegal aliens, who were on their way to the tax collectors, stopped to have a baby? Also known as “Adoration of the Magi.”

Let’s try to un-knot the facts here, which isn’t easy because everybody was fighting over the same territory, back in Year Zero of the Common Era (not AD anymore, in case you missed that memo). What is frankincense and where was it from? Who were the magi and where was this East that they were from? (I said it in yesterday’s post, east is a matter of perspective, depending on not just where the baby was born but who was writing about it and when.)

Frankincense sap collection process found on Youtube.

When Resins Ruled the World

First of all, frankincense is a perfume and an incense. It’s a scent, highly prized across the ages both because it was hard to get and because people didn’t bathe until just about a century ago, so anything that masked odor was prized.

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