There certainly is no place like home, so when picking out my favorite city, I could look no further than my own backyard of Sheffield, England. The city has a long industrial past, but that’s not the history that comes to mind when I think of my favorite place in the world. Sheffield has some of the most stunning Christmas Markets, and whenever I visit the Winter Gardens, it’s those markets, and the holiday scents of eggnog and particularly nutmeg that remind me of the city.
Every year, there’s a flurry of advertisements, billboards, fliers, news articles, and all kinds of reminders that Christmas is coming— as if we could forget! In the Sheffield Winter Gardens, the stalls pop up, and the fires start burning in the portable firepits along with a hope for snow, which rarely delivers. Instead, we’ll huddle under umbrellas and waddle through puddles to get to the cheese wheels and the warm mince pies with cream.
Soak Up The Atmosphere
The Winter Gardens extend past their name and are actually open year-round. They provide a green heart to the city and are next to the Millennium Galleries and the Peace Gardens. It’s one of the biggest temperate glasshouses that you will find in the UK, and home to more than 2,500 plants. It offers visitors a release from the built-up areas of the city, and give them the freedom to explore. If you ever make your way to Sheffield for a concert, convention, or sporting event, then make a point to visit the gardens and galleries. You’ll find that there’s a whole new side to the city that’s often overlooked by visitors.
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The scents of the markets are unmistakable, and I often turn to essential oils to bring back that cozy feeling when we have a long, dull spring, or as the summer fades and we hit that miserable autumn period. There’s something about that anticipation to Christmas, no matter how cold and windy it is, the flashing lights, the red and white tinsel, the trees and the rows upon rows of gift stalls, they help to cheer me up.
The Millennium Square side of the Winter Gardens is a pleasant place to walk by at any time of the year, but it’s a little bit more fun and optimistic in the winter. The city boasts some classic architecture, and it’s a thriving and bustling place year-round. Much of the old industry has departed and with it the grime and the industrial scents. Now, as you walk around the city you’ll smell the perfumes and bath bombs from the boutiques, the cooking smells from the restaurants and street vendors, and yes, later in the year, the aroma of nutmeg from the Christmas Markets.
A Tasty Spice With a Welcoming Smell
Nutmeg is great as a spice, but in essential oil form it’s particularly potent, and it’s easy to feel the sentimentality that the scent creates. It’s a calming, natural sedative and can be a beneficial painkiller. It can also help to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Sheffield’s street vendors use it as a spice that warms and soothes, and that cures the sniffles that will come from trudging around the markets in the rain. The scent persists in the minds of those who have visited the markets because it’s distinctive, strong, and nearly mouth-watering. We tend to associate smells with tastes and feelings, and for me, there’s no better feeling than the hope and optimism of knowing that the biggest (and my favorite) holiday of the year is just around the corner. The sentimental smell always gives the feeling of home and places a warm blanket of comfort throughout my body whenever I encounter it.
Even if you’re not lucky enough to call Sheffield your hometown, my fellow Christmas enthusiasts can get the feel of that atmosphere by breathing in nutmeg essential oil to bring you to the Winter Gardens, no matter where you are.
We hope you enjoyed this personal account by a fellow essential oil lover, Olivia S. Check out more Cityscape stories here!