In all seasons and for all occasions, we are addicted to home fragrance, aren’t you? But did you know that perfuming your house is a long time ago ritual? The history of home perfume goes back to antiquity. It evolved during the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, to finally become a daily practice today. From purification to the pleasure of perfuming our home sweet home, come and retrace the history of this olfactory ritual in today’s article.
The home perfume: an olfactory ritual
Perfume your home, yes but how?
Home perfume can be used to diffuse a pleasant smell in a room or a house. There are several types of home fragrances. It is often found in the form of sprays, scented candles or electric diffusers. The purpose of home fragrance is to create a pleasant atmosphere in a given space. It can be formulated with essential oils, plant extracts, synthetic aromas or a combination of all of these! Some of them are designed to provide a true moment of relaxation, while others are made to stimulate energy and creativity. There are also fragrances that eliminate unpleasant odors and purify the air in your home. In short, it is a simple and effective way to create a pleasant and personalized atmosphere in a living space.
A ritual present in ancient civilizations
The history of home perfume dates back to ancient times. In ancient Egypt, perfumes were considered a luxury, associated with a high class of the population. They were often used in religious ceremonies to communicate with the deities. It was the Egyptians who first developed sophisticated techniques to extract essential oils from plants such as jasmine and lotus. These fragrant oils were then used to perfume houses, temples and also tombs to help the deceased reach the afterlife more quickly.
In ancient Greece, perfumes were also associated with religious ceremonies and were considered a mark of refinement. The Greeks developed even more elaborate fragrances, from plants and aromatic oils, such as lavender and incense. They perfume houses but also bodies.
During the Roman Empire, perfumes were also widely present in daily life to cover unpleasant odors. The Romans improved extraction techniques and used essences in public baths and to perfume homes. From ancient times, home perfume reveals a rich and fascinating history as an integral part of all these early cultures.
The evolution of home perfume, from the useful to the pleasant
The Middle Ages was a period of great innovation in the field of perfumery, including home perfume. Fragrances were mainly used to cover up foul odors, which were ubiquitous in medieval cities due to the density of population and the lack of modern sanitary facilities. Scent waters and other perfumed compositions are therefore very useful to mask the smells of everyday life such as smoke from the kitchen and the stench of the stables. The first function of the ambient perfume is thus clearly practical.
Among the nobility of the time, scents also came into play to create a pleasant atmosphere in castles and manors, especially during banquets and parties. Resins of plants, bark or spices were burned in earthenware or bronze vessels. But the most popular perfumes of the time are based on herbs and flowers, such as rosemary, lavender, juniper and lily. These decoctions are often mixed with water to create “eaux de toilette”. These were used to scent clothing and furniture.
As in previous periods, home perfume is strongly linked to worship and religion. Fragrances took place in churches and cathedrals. They allow to create a sacred atmosphere thanks to incense and myrrh. This era is a period of great creativity in the field of compositions. Home fragrances became an essential part of the daily life and culture of the time.
Over time, home perfumes became more and more refined and sophisticated. During the Renaissance, the nobles and the rich began to use more elaborate perfumes to mask the odors of everyday life… Hygiene was still very questionable. But from now on, home perfume is also used in a notion of pleasure… as well as to impress its guests! Olfactory compositions are mostly made from expensive materials such as musk, amber and sandalwood. The fragrances are often presented in fabric sachets filled with dried flowers and herbs. Lavender, mint, rosemary, sage and thyme are slipped inside. These little containers can be found everywhere, in drawers or hanging on walls.
Liquid perfumes are equally popular, including rose water, orange blossom water and lavender water. These were rubbed directly onto the skin and were also used to scent sheets, clothes and hair. This period also marked the appearance of the first scented candles. Often made from beeswax scented with essential oil, they were placed in silver or gold candelabras.
In the 17th century, the perfume of atmosphere becomes an essential element of the life of the rich and the powerful. Moreover, everything was abundantly perfumed: furniture, sheets, curtains, wigs and even clothes. Professional perfumers appeared at this time and some of them began to create fragrances specifically for homes and palaces.
From the 19th century to the present day
Home perfume gets modernized
In the 19th century, home perfume was still a luxury reserved for the wealthier classes. Perfumes are often mixtures of flower, herb and fruit fragrances. They are diffused in the houses using scented candles, incense or oil burners. Over time, the practice of this olfactory ritual is democratized, especially thanks to technological advances in synthetic chemistry. However, perfuming the house is still often considered as an expensive practice and reserved for an elite. But the popularity of home fragrance continues to grow and diversify. This is the case thanks to the introduction of new fragrances and new methods of diffusion.
In the early 20th century, scenting the home became more accessible with the mass production of scented candles and scent diffusers. Candles gained popularity in the 1920s, largely due to the Art Deco movement and sophisticated interior design. They were joined by scented flower bouquets, oil burners and perfume sprays. Perfume diffusers also experienced a strong demand during the 20th century, with the appearance of new designs and materials.
The cocooning trend is at the heart of our desires, even more than before. With the development of telecommuting and the different periods of crisis that we are currently experiencing, it has never been more important to feel (and smell) good at our place. And home fragrance contributes greatly to the feeling of well-being. With the development of technology, interior perfume continues to evolve to include more environmentally friendly products, such as heat-powered essential oil diffusers. In addition, discerning noses have become more aware of the ingredients used in home fragrance products. They are beginning to look for more natural and healthier options for their indoor environment.
Today, consumers can choose from a wide range of fragrances, from classics to more exotic scents. In conclusion, the history and evolution of home fragrance reflects the importance placed on creating a pleasant and comfortable environment in the home. From the Middle Ages to the present day, home fragrances have evolved to become a popular choice for enhancing the atmosphere of the home and providing a personal and unique sensory experience.
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