National Orange Blossom Day, which is celebrated annually on June 27, is held in honor of this amazing white flower. Used in food, perfumes, and various other applications worldwide, the orange blossom adds a wonderful citrusy fragrance to products.
History of National Orange Blossom Day
The white flower of the bitter orange tree — cousin to the sweet orange and lemon trees — is a native of India and China but has grown in sun-drenched lands for centuries. Today, it is found all over the Mediterranean Sea, from Italy to Spain, Morocco, and Tunisia.
Mythology states the orange tree symbolizes paradise and love, its white flowers are purity, and its fruit is fertility. The craze for this flower is reported to have spread throughout the Islamic empire, and it reached Spain in the ninth century. Three centuries later, this fragrant plant made its way to Sicily and then Provence, introduced by the Crusaders. In Rome, the orange blossom essence gained much popularity because of a nobleman’s wife, who would wear this essence everywhere. Quickly becoming fashionable, this scent spread throughout the French Court. King Louis XIV, who had been passionate about perfumes from a very young age, suffered from severe headaches. Only the mild and fragrant orange blossom scent soothed him; every other scent was too overpowering. By the time the orange blossom reached England, the world was already enthralled by its scent. Legends had spread around the continent of maidens entwining fresh orange blossoms into a bridal wreath for their hair. This even gave birth to the phrase ‘to gather orange blossoms’ which actually meant ‘to seek a wife.’
Since the time Queen Victoria wore a wreath of orange blossom at her wedding — an emblem of chastity at that time, royal brides have been associated with the orange blossom. Queen Victoria was said to be so enamored with this flower that her husband Prince Albert gifted her many precious pieces of jewelry shaped like this flower over the years. This love influenced many other royal brides; they all had orange blossoms as part of the design of their wedding dresses, including Queen Elizabeth! There is even a Royal Albert English china pattern called ‘Orange Blossom.’ This orange blossom motif only blossomed, appearing on wedding rings, other china patterns, and even furniture. Sheet music with titles like “Orange Blossoms Waltz” by G. Ludovic, “Orange Blossom Time is June” by George Spink and W.R. Williams, and “When It’s Orange Blossom Time in Loveland, I’ll Be Waiting at the Church for You” by Jeff Branen and Arthur Lange also became famous.
The Spaniards introduced the orange blossom to the Americas in the sixteenth century, to the state of Florida. The climate there was perfect to grow this crop, and citrus plants have been critical to Florida’s economy ever since. At the same time, the orange blossom craze was overpowering royal brides in the nineteenth century, citrus was being grown throughout the U.S.
Even today, this flower is seen as good luck, and frequently appears in bouquets and wreaths at weddings, apart from all of its versatile uses.
National Orange Blossom Day timeline
After spreading throughout Arabia, the craze for the orange blossom now reaches Spain.
Crusaders first introduce it in Sicily, then Provence.
Spaniards bring citrus — orange trees — to the U.S., to Florida.
Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León names the place he landed on, La Florida, which means 'land of flowers' in Spanish.
From Spain, these orange blossoms reach England.
This begins when Queen Victoria replaces her tiara with a wreath of orange blossom during her wedding to Prince Albert.
To mark significant moments in their lives, Prince Albert presents Queen Victoria with a number of pieces from a beautiful orange blossom parure (matching set of jewelry).
The Royal Albert English china pattern called 'Orange Blossom' inspires many other such china patterns.
The orange blossom is declared as Florida's state flower.
National Orange Blossom Day FAQs
Does orange blossom taste like oranges?
Orange blossoms provide a more nuanced flavor with hints of citrus in the background. Popular food critics describe their taste as being of a ‘subtle orange flavor, but more complex.’
Why did Florida pick the orange blossom?
The state is called the land of flowers, and the orange blossom grows in abundance here. After much deliberation, Floridians picked the orange blossom as the state flower over other flowers grown in this region.
Do orange blossoms turn into oranges?
Orange blossoms bloom in clusters of one to six in spring and result in oranges in the following autumn or winter; most orange flowers do not turn into fruit and drop from the tree at the end of the bloom, however.
How To Celebrate National Orange Blossom Day
If you have never used orange blossom in your cooking, brewing, or baking, then this is the day to start! Make an orange blossom tea, or use orange blossom flavor water in a sweet dessert in place of the usual rose water. If you want more variety, you can have store-bought orange blossom-flavored honey. Orange blossom water is also usually available to buy in stores (pre-made), so you don’t have to worry about messing around with the flowers and can get straight to cooking!
Orange blossoms have a long history of being used in perfumes and as a fragrance. Local stores (or online ones) stock orange blossom oils, which can be used to make your own fragrances or perfumes. Simply add a few drops to your homemade soaps and moisturizers to smell like a lovely orange blossom all day!
Grow a citrus plant
If you have space (or a kitchen sill), think about adding a pop of citrusy color via a potted plant. Apart from that amazing citrus fragrance, you get your own little fruit garden too!
Fun Facts About National Orange Blossom Day
The only state flower used as perfume
Florida’s state flower is the only one used to make perfume.
Royalty bathed in it
Anne-Marie Orsini, the wife of the Prince of Nerola and Duke of Bracciano, Flavio Orsini, perfumed her bathwater (and her gloves) with orange essence.
Orange blossom harvesting takes place at dawn when the flower is most concentrated in odorous components.
Varied uses of orange blossom oil
This oil cuts through grease very effectively, which is why it is popular with some brands of commercial cleaners.
Making orange blossom honey is simple
Beekeepers put their beehives into citrus groves around the time that the little flowers start to bloom; the resultant flavor is distinctive and makes this a sought-after treat.
Why We Love National Orange Blossom Day
Orange blossoms are good for health
These fragrant blossoms have amazing health benefits. When brewed correctly, the orange blossom water or tea is delicious and has a calming effect, especially with anxiety. Other health advantages include improved sleep, reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improved circulation. Even the essence has soothing, sedative, and antidepressant properties. It is very popular in aromatherapy.
Flowers trigger a happy response
Psychologists report that seeing flowers, any flowers, has a calming effect on the human brain. Add to add the amazing scent of the orange blossom, and you have fewer anxiety attacks along with an amazing fragrance. We love getting a whiff of orange blossoms, and even talking about them feeds our souls and sparks our creativity, making us love National Orange Blossom Day that much more!
We explore new culinary skills
Type in 'cooking with orange blossoms' and pages of Google Search Results pop up, with a dizzying array of recipes, from citrusy mocktails to shortbreads, to preserves. Not only do we learn more about this wonderful flower, but we also get a new ingredient to play within the kitchen too! What's not to love about that?
National Orange Blossom Day dates