What's the connection between Christmas and oranges?

Last summer I stepped into a candy shop and noticed that my favorite chocolates (Terry's Milk Chocolate Oranges) weren't there. I thought they were sold out, but the clerk told me that they were just a "Christmas thing." Tell that to my soul, Sir. Tell that to my soul.

As I shuffled out, I wondered what oranges had to do with Christmas. Then a memory came to me. In elementary school, we'd make pomander balls during the holidays. Studding oranges with whole cloves, our classroom was filled with the aroma of citrus and spice. Our teacher would tie them up with ribbon, and we'd hang them up at home. 

etched pomander balls

What is the connection between Christmas and oranges? In the Victorian era, only wealthy families could afford the import fees of oranges, which came from Spain and Africa. It was a luxury, so families of modest means would splurge on this delicacy for their children on Christmas, hiding them in their stockings. Whereas today we take for granted that oranges will be piled high all year at the grocery store, back then, children would be overjoyed at this seasonal treat.

orange slices

So why not give a nod to tradition and incorporate some orange into your holiday decor? I adorned some garland with dried orange slices, and it was a cinch! Here's how...

dried orange slices

What you'll need:

  • Two oranges (blood oranges, if available, might be festive!)
  • Green floral wire (to blend in with the garland)
  • Sheet pan
  • Parchment paper

Adding dried orange to garland


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees (any hotter and you'll risk losing that vibrant color)
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper
  • Slice oranges into 1/2 inch slices
  • Bake for two hours, turning the orange slices every 30 minutes
  • Cool on a rack
  • While cooling, take wire cutters or scissors and cut the floral wire into 1.5 inch, or 2-inch pieces 
  • By the time you've cut enough wires for all the slices, they should be cooled off
  • Slide the wire through a top portion of the orange. Be careful not to pierce the orange skin (too tough - it will bend the wire)
  • Pierce through, make a little hook, and attach it to the garland
  • Do this in even spaces throughout your garland

The scent is lovely, and the citrus will lend a Victorian flair to your holiday decor. It's almost as lovely as a Terry's Milk Chocolate Orange. 



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