September 26

Tuesday Treasures

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Mums the Word

Fall is for mums!!  Chrysanthemums, that is.   These members of the daisy family have been cultivated for more than two thousand years!! 

The Chinese consider “Ju Hua” an all-purpose medicinal plant.  The fragrant petals are often brewed as a tea and used in detox regimens to bolster the immune system, warding off colds and other respiratory infections.  Rich in antioxidants, mums are said to cure insomnia due to stress or anger.  The tea is also used as a drop to relieve eye strain.  And on the ninth day of the ninth moon (October 28, this year) Chrysanthemum wine will be sipped to ensure long life, as part of an annual autumn ritual.

Our word, “chrysanthemum," actually comes from a Greek word meaning “golden flower.”   In ancient times, the Greeks donned garlands of chrysanthemums because of their “protective” properties.  Wreathes were woven and placed on front doors to ward off any “wandering spirits.” 

My favorite Chrysanthemum legend comes from Germany where a peasant family was sitting down to their meager Christmas Eve supper deep in the Black Forest.  As they were eating, a wailing sound was heard, but dismissed as the howl of a north wind.   Hearing the cries repeatedly, they opened the door to find a young beggar.  Without pause, the waif was wrapped in blankets and invited to share their modest fare.  Afterwards, he shed the blankets and revealed his shining white attire.  Proclaiming himself the Christ Child, he quickly disappeared into the cold night.  The next morning, two white chrysanthemums were found on the doorstep. Today, many Germans bring white mums into their homes on Christmas Eve, believing that, in doing so, they could be sheltering the Christ Child.    

Happy Fall!