National Herbs and Spices Day falls on June 10 every year and celebrates the world of diversity when it comes to these often teensy flavoring agents, which nevertheless pack a punch! After all, what would food even be if it weren’t for the herbs and spices that make every dish unique? Since herbs and spices are cooking essentials, it, therefore, makes complete sense that they are given a day of recognition for their contribution to mankind and its culinary journeys thus far. Furthermore, the great thing about many herbs is that they can be freshly grown in your own garden patch or on your kitchen sill, and what can be better than eating your own homegrown produce? There are just so many ways in which herbs and spices make all our lives better, so join us as we list some of them.
History of National Herbs and Spices Day
Though very little is known about how this holiday came into being, National Herbs and Spices Days has been officially observed from the year 2015 onwards. Not only are herbs and spices of utmost importance in the kitchen, many of them have strong medicinal value, too, which is why such a day may have come into being. Before the words ‘national’ and ‘spices’ were added in 2015, the oldest reference to this holiday was ‘Herb Day’ in 1999.
One of the earliest fans of spices and herbs was Emperor Charlemagne (742–814 A.D.). He apparently felt so passionately about them that he put together a list of 74 different herbs and had them planted in his gardens. Don’t just take our word for it though, see what Emperor Charlemagne himself had to say: “Herbs are the friends of physicians and the praise of cooks.” By the Middle Ages, the use of herbs and spices in both cooking and medication became common. Books like “The Forme of Cury” (“The Method of Cooking”) began to emerge, which promoted the use of herbs extensively. Modern-day allopathy also has its roots in the mixing of various herbs and medicinal plants to cure common ailments.
If we even look at pop culture today, some of the most popular music groups’ names have been inspired by herbs and spices — The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Spice Girls, to name a few. Whatever the origin, we’re glad these little guys get the recognition they so richly deserve, as we cannot imagine a life without herbs and spices.
National Herbs and Spices Day timeline
Early humans stumble upon the tasty benefits of combining meat with different leaves and berries.
During King Solomon’s reign, the Queen of Sheba offers him gold, gemstones, and spices as a fitting tribute.
Chinese author Li Shih Chen publishes “Pen Ts’ao Kang Mu,” a Chinese herbal book mentioning over 1,000 medicinal plants.
Thanks to Marco Polo and other explorers, spices, and herbs begin to be traded worldwide as commodities.
Thanks to Columbus and colonialism, European spices and indigenous American spices become popular in North America.
National Herbs and Spices Day FAQs
Is there a National Spice Day?
Spices share their day with herbs and are celebrated on National Herbs and Spices Day on June 10.
What are the most popular herbs and spices?
The list can vary across regions and cultures, however, here are the top 10 herbs and spices to have at all times in your kitchen:
- Black peppercorns
- Cinnamon (ground or sticks)
- Chili powder
- Chili flakes
- Ginger (ground or fresh)
- Smoked paprika (or sweet)
- Oregano (dried or fresh)
- Bay leaves
What are the four basic types of seasoning?
The four crucial ingredients to any meal are salt, pepper, sugar (or mild sweeteners), and acids (like vinegar).
How to Celebrate National Herbs and Spices Day
Start your own herb garden
You probably guessed this would be top of the list. Not only are homegrown herbs easy to grow (no green thumb necessary), they ensure that your food has the freshest of herbs always. Plus, growing something is always good for the environment, so it’s a win-win.
Get on a health kick
Boost both your knowledge and your health by looking up the numerous health benefits of certain herbs and spices, and then try to incorporate some into your diet. Teas are a beneficial and delicious way to explore different spice and herb combinations.
Explore a new cuisine
We’re sure you have not tried all the food there is, so why not use this holiday as an opportunity to try out a totally new cuisine — complete with all the herbs and spices unique to that cuisine. Whether you decide to go the home-chef route or visit an authentic restaurant, we guarantee your culinary journey will be all the richer because of it.
5 Surprising Old Superstitions About Herbs And Spices
Thyme for protection
Ancient Romans believed that wearing or bathing in thyme would protect them from being poisoned.
Lavender instead of body odor
In Renaissance Europe, people believed that lavender would suffice to keep them smelling nice, instead of bathing.
Rosemary predicts your future
A symbol of marriage and fertility, if a girl put rosemary under her pillow, she would dream of her future husband.
Nutmeg scares away the Black Death
During the Black Death, people believed that nutmeg would grant them immunity to the plague.
Tarragon instead of Tylenol
Due to its numbing properties, people believed that chewing tarragon could cure toothaches.
Why We Love National Herbs and Spices Day
The perfect excuse to get cooking
As if we even need to give you a reason to don that apron and start experimenting! Just a little bit of research can make you want to update your spice rack and play around with different flavors.
A herb or spice for every ailment
Not limited to cooking, herbs and spices have many medicinal qualities that can help treat minor ailments. The best part is that these are all-natural remedies, and contribute largely to the homeopathic industry now.
The variety is mind-boggling
Whoever said ‘variety is the spice of life’ was spot on — the sheer variety of herbs and spices around the world makes us want to celebrate every cuisine and culture, as spices and herbs are a common denominator in food anywhere.
National Herbs and Spices Day dates