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Lavender: The Scent of History

Afternoon Lecture/Seminar

Friday, December 10, 2021 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1NV101
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Lavender field in bloom at Senanque Abbey, Provence

From the sunny fields of the Mediterranean to the misty meadows of England, the history of lavender parallels the history of humanity, spanning civilizations, centuries, and continents. Our connection with this plant is vast, universal, and ancient, both primal and affirmed by modern science.

Lavender's uses have been both practical and esoteric, favored from physicians of the ancient world to contemporary essential oil enthusiasts. It had a role in warding off the Black Plague and its sales skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaker and food historian Christine Rai explores lavender's role in history, art, music, literature, religion, and folklore, and how it continues to compel us today. Discover how its fragrance could have provided inspiration for Leonardo da Vinci, its ingestion sparked "pure knowledge and clear understanding" in German mystic Hildegard vonBingen, and how European royals required it for migraines, perfume, and furniture stuffing.

Rai is an interdisciplinarian who specializes in food studies, culture, and folklore. She leads local and international trips and tours, talks, and tastings.

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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.