«О, Ёлочка!» – O Tannenbaum!

This post is a part of a Joint Blogging Event – O Tannenbaum!, a celebration of perfumes highlighting woody notes.

I grew up without Christmas. I knew of Christmas but I didn’t really know Christmas. It was something from another time (O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker) or another place (foreign movies, e.g. A Christmas Story, Die Hard) but it wasn’t a holiday celebrated in the country where I lived.

Instead we celebrated the New Year. It was one of the most popular and loved holidays. It resembled Christmas in many ways: there were traditional family gatherings, festive food and presents under the tree (mostly for kids but some adults exchanged gifts as well). We would buy a holiday tree around December 28 and set it up just in time for the New Year celebration and would keep until mid-January.

Winter WoodsWe didn’t have Christmas but we had winters – very cold and snowy one year; chilly and sludgy another. There whole city would be colored in grayscale tones – white sidewalks, gray roads and almost black tree branches against the whitish winter skies.  And it was so cozy to look at those bare branches through a window from warmth of a room while decorating a holiday tree. Just add a fireplace (we didn’t have those but I can “see” it now) and you’ll get the picture I paint in my mind when I think about Winter Woods perfume.

Winter Woods by Sonoma Scent Studio – created in 2008 (and updated in 2009) by Laurie Erickson, notes include guaiacwood, cedar, sandalwood, birch tar, cade, oakmoss absolute, castoreum, amber, labdanum absolute, vetiver, ambergris and musk.

Ines from All I am – a redhead smells sweetness in Winter Woods. If it’s there I cannot smell this type of sweetness. For me it’s a pleasant combination of several woods: wood burning in a fireplace, wood log next to in a holder, Christmas tree by the window and even a snow-covered bough outside of the window.

Winter Woods is available from Sonoma Scent Studio website in multiple sizes (1 ml, 2.5ml, 5 ml, 17 ml and 34 ml). I’m using the 2.5 ml spray sample that I bought as a part of a very nice box set. It has a good tenacity so my sample will be enough for a while. When it’s done I’ll go for another one of a purse spray.

After we’ve moved to California, I remember it was so unusual that all the decorations were up early in December. Combined with heavy rains, evergreen plants and relatively warm weather the idea of celebrating Christmas hadn’t taken roots for a while.

Christmas TreeOur first year here we went to get a tree the next day after Christmas. We found it on the closest abandoned Christmas tree lot. It was free. When it was time to take it down (mid-January, remember?) we couldn’t figure out a way to dispose of it. Now it seems so trivial, I can think of many options – for that or any other “problem” but back then, several months in the country, it felt unsolvable. The best solution we found was to take it out to the balcony… It stayed there for another two years and became at some point a family joke.

For the second New Year here we tried to follow the same strategy (in the first part – getting a tree, with throwing it away we were smarter and did it in line with neighbors). It failed! I think it was a city ordinance that prevented lots’ owners from abandoning them again, even for a couple of days. So by the time we went looking for a tree everything was gone. The New Year would have been ruined for me if it weren’t for some neighbor who had no use for a Christmas tree a day or two after the holiday: we found a perfectly fresh tree next to a dumpster and not being too squeamish, brought it home, decorated it and let this tree fulfill its destiny the second time. How many other cut Christmas trees are getting the second chance?

When I’m thinking about that time one perfume comes to mind – Rush for Men. That was the first perfume I bought for my vSO here, and we both always thought it smelled of “ёлочка” (Tannenbaum).

Rush for Men by Gucci – created in 2000 by Daniela Roche-Andrier and Antoine Mainsondieu, notes include lavender, cypress, incense, cedarwood, patchouli, Okoumé wood, sandalwood and musk. Does it really smell like a pine or a fir tree? Not any more since now my nose can distinguish scents more precisely. But still when I carefully spray Rush from an almost empty bottle – that same bottle that I bought more than ten years ago – the first thought that crosses my mind is “it smells of “ёлочка.” Sadly Rush for Men has been discontinued and can be found only on eBay at the price that successfully cures nostalgia. As I’ve mentioned already, my bottle is almost empty and the staying power of the perfume decreased over years so I might buy another bottle if I come across it for a more reasonable price.

I haven’t found any real reviews for Gucci Rush for Men from any blogs I read. If you reviewed this perfume please share a link in your comment.

In the recent several years we started celebrating all winter holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year. We get (and sometimes even decorate) our holiday tree earlier in December; I kindle my Menorah for eight days; we attend a traditional Christmas Day dinner at our friends’ house (and even hosted it once when their house was being rebuilt); and we gather with our close friends to greet a New Year at 12 o’clock on December 31, eat, drink and exchange gifts trying to stay awake as long as we can.

Christmas Tree 2I love the scent of a Christmas tree. I wait the whole year for that one month that smells of pine or fir resin and needles. I look forward to decorating trees, both at the office and at home. And an olfactory experience is a big part of the joy.

This year everything is slightly off.

First, I made a decision (yes, it was all my doing, I have nobody to blame) to buy an artificial tree for our office. I had good reasons for that: while natural trees of the size we need do not survive with our AC/heating system, I found a perfect artificial tree that looks extremely lifelike. It doesn’t smell.

Then for my home I bought a beautiful real tree in a pot. After holidays we plan to either plant it on our backyard or keep it there in its pot for a year and use it again for the next holiday season. It’s very beautiful – just the right size, color and fluffiness. Guess what? IT DOESN’T SMELL!

How have I been coping with that mishap? Over the last couple of weeks while thinking about this post and then writing it, I was constantly wearing Winter Woods, Rush and especially Fille en Aiguilles.

Fille en Aiguilles by Serge Lutens – created in 2009 by Christopher Sheldrake, notes include Pine needles, vetiver, sugary sap, laurel, fir balsam, frankincense, candied fruit and spice.

They say “Be careful what you wish for.” In my comment to Birgit’s wonderful review and giveaway I wrote “I still hope to find at least one SL’s perfume to love and to want to buy a FB.” I won that giveaway (once again – thank you, Birgit, for hosting it and thank you, Vanessa, for delivering it to me). I’m almost done with my Fille en Aiguilles sample vial and I definitely want need more! I won’t try to describe the scent: if you haven’t tried it yet read that review at Olfactoria’s Travels (link above) and then try it for yourself. I just want to say that I really enjoy Fille en Aiguilles and I’m grateful to it for helping me through this unscented holiday season.

Images: my own

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31 thoughts on “«О, Ёлочка!» – O Tannenbaum!

  1. Undina, I really adore this post! I’m fascinated with your holiday successes and mishaps, and kind of jealous that you celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas and New Years. I suppose I could too, if I really wanted to, but I just treat myself to Hanukkah foods sometimes, and do a traditional Christmas. I’m not religious in any way, but the traditions of Christmas have always appealed to me since I was a child.

    I did not know that Antoine Maisondieu had a hand in creating Gucci Rush for Men, that’s interesting. Maybe someday I’ll get to sniff it. I used to wear the original version of Gucci Rush (I bought a bottle when it was first released), and I must say that there’s never been anything else like it since then.

    • Thank you, Carrie!

      I’m not religious either but my idea was that since I decided to celebrate Christmas without having any relation to that holiday whatsoever, being partially jewish I should definitely do at least something about Hanukkah.

  2. How lovely! I thoroughly enjoyed your post, Undina!
    Your writing is wonderful and transports me right into the living rrom of your childhood home, fire place or not. :)

    We have a living tree this year as well and it doesn’t smell either!!! I am spraying it with Annick Goutal Noel roomspray. ;)

    I’m glad you love Fille, it makes me happy having introduced you to your one Serge (yet).

    • Thank you, Birgit!

      It’s not the first SL: you and Tarleisio are two godmothers of my Ambre Sultan bottle. But it might be the second one. Or, at least, the second SL’s decant.

      I use Jo Malone’s Pine & Eucalyptus living cologne to introduce some holiday ambiance around my scentless tree.

  3. Hi Undina,

    I loved this post with its unfolding tale of your Christmas tree acquisition strategies. Getting one that had been abandoned is admirably “green” of you, and I sympathise with the problem of the non-smelling tree. But it sounds as though a spritz of Fille en Aiguilles will do a good job of making up for that. We have a black, artificial, fibre-optic tree that cycles through about six different colours, which could not be further from the real Tannenbaum but it is colourful! I also decorate a small, fairly convincing artificial tree in a hessian sack to go in the dining room..

    Enjoy your tree and your festive celebrations – have enjoyed reading through your looking glass this year!

    • Vanessa, thank you for your kind words and your company at my looking glass.

      I have a small artificial tree we take with us when we travel to mountains once in a while when we feel that we missed snow too much.

  4. I love how your posts take us on a journey through your memories.
    And I also love the smell of Christmas trees – one of the loveliest things these days is coming home and smelling the tree. :)

    Btw, I just wanted to say that my skin seems to put emphasis on any sweetness that exists in a perfume, and spices as well.

    • Ines, thank you. It’s amazing how differently our skin/nose/brain reacts to scents. I’ll keep in mind your skin’s special powers when I read your future reviews.

  5. Wonderful, evocative post, Undina. Thank you so much. I loved learning about your celebrations in the USSR (of course Winter Woods!) and the massive difference when coming to Calfornia. I think I’d actually enjoy New Year if I celebrated it the way you do. It always makes me melancholy.

    Gucci Rush Men sounds quite extraordinary – no wonder it got discontinued. Loved the Ebay comment “at the price that successfully cures nostalgia” lol! Too bad that modern Christmas trees don’t smell. I really should try Fille au Aiguilles, I hope you get a FB soon. Happy Holidays!

    • Thank you, Tara!

      Modern trees do smell – when cut. Live ones in pots refuse to share their scent. Well, I’m content with all the perfumes I have to help me (and even more ideas from fellow-bloggers).

  6. I’m so glad that you chose to include Rush for Men, it’s really great. It has a weird plastic lavender note that I find really enjoyable, it’s just a shame that it is so very light. I do intend to review it as part of my Gone, But Not Forgotten series at some point :D

    • I remember it being much more tenacious 10 years ago (from the spray bottle). I think it didn’t age well – and this is one more reason why I’m hesitant to pursue the next bottle. But the scent is very interesting – can’t wait to read your real review (I’ll link to it once you publish).

  7. I adore you for adopting those abandoned trees and giving them new life. Seeing all those trees tossed in the garbage always makes me sad.

    I love your photographs and decorations. The peacock is gorgeous, and all those shades of blue look so pretty.

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful stories and reviews, Undina! If I ever catch sight of Rush for Men, I’ll let you know.

    • Joanne, once again – thnk you for organizing this event, it turned out great.

      The second picture is from the blue decoration year (I had white, red and golden, silver and some other color-schemed trees over years). It was so beautifufl – I’m glad you liked it as well.

  8. I too loved reading this journey through your Christmas seasons and the comment about the “price that cures nostalgia.” :) Ha ha. The perfumes you’ve chosen also sound like they go really well together, which is kind of cool. I hope Rush for Men someday drops into your lap at a reasonable price.

    • Natalie, thank you! If your (mine) wish comes true I’ll ask you to wish me something else :)

      I’m still under the influence of your writing for this event – it was great!

  9. Of all the Tannenbaum posts I’ve read, and they are all so beautiful and very different from one another, yours is the one that really makes me feel Christmas. I feel like you made me experience it through new eyes — what a gift!

    May I ask you how old you were when you came to the US? And when you refer to “we,” did you come over with your family or with your vSO? If the questions are too personal, just ignore them … I was just trying to get a sense of how you arrived here, as part of a larger family, or as a couple.

    At any rate, just loved hearing of your traditions with the tree at New Year’s in the USSR and the new traditions you’ve adopted here. Merry Christmas to you, Undina!

    • Thank you, Suzanne. I’m really pleased to read your comment. And Merry Christmas to you too!

      Yes, “we” means my vSO and I. So we were building our new traditions here together.

      I so enjoyed reading about your three spirits/perfumes of Christmas! You should share pictures of your decorations with us.

  10. How glad I am that you found a SL to love and want a FB of, I am happy too that it’s FeA, which I adore. And you got me so curious with Rush for men, I (shamefully admit;-)) used to wear Rush when it came out, but don’t even remember a masculine version, you make it sound like something I would love.
    My own Christmas traditions have been eclectic, but I like it that way, so I think adopting the best to make them your own sounds great to me. Merry Christmas

    • Asali, Merry Christmas to you too!

      Gucci Rush for women was my first scrubber. Partially I blame Rush for Men: I tested and bought it first and I liked it so much that I couldn’t even contamplate the possibility of the feminine version to be that awful on my skin.

  11. Really enjoyed your post, Undina! I did grow up celebrating Christmas as a child (even though we weren’t/aren’t Christians) but haven’t really celebrated it as an adult and miss doing so. Your post is really inspiring me to think about getting a ‘holiday’ tree or atleast something symbolic of a tree..

    I briefly sniffed Filles in Barney’s and really liked it but I always get taken up by the Malle’s in Barney’s and pay SLs much less attention. WIll revisit this one- I miss the smell of trees..

    • I think that everybody should have some traditions and rituals which make our life more joyful. Liking a holiday and celebrating it your own way (not religious – if you’re not religious or if it’s not your religion), in my opinion, is better for you (I mean abstract “you”) than dismissing it completely as “not my holiday”/too commercial/etc.

      You should try Fille en Aiguilles on your skin and you’ll see if it works for you. Just give it some time.

  12. Marvelous reviews, and I love how the accompanying images become more and more colorful as your tale of moving closer to a Christmas of your own progresses. (I am especially entranced with your lovely mermaid ornament– la sirene!)

    • Thank you, Meg! That ornament represents my screen character – Undina (Undine, water mymph). At least I imagined it as a mermaid when I chose it many years ago. Ornament itself is very beautiful: hand blown Italian glass. Unfortunately now I cannot use it (or several others that I love) because of my cat Rusty: only lights and unbreakable ornaments can survive on my tree nowadays.

  13. Undina, this is wonderful. Thank you for this post. It actually made me shed a tear thinking about my own feeling about Christmas. Let me share them here.

    I did grow up without Christmas as well, but Christmas for me was what you read about in the books, a little glimpse into life that was long gone. I did not know I will have a second chance to break the time capsule, or as they used to say, gain an escape velocity, and come to a place where this life can be for me. And to a place where one could call me Ma’am, for that matter.

    Of course I celebrate Christmas now.
    But I cannot go without New Year’s either.
    So we celebrate both and get gifts for both. I look at it this way: Santa Claus has adopted me and our old Дед Мороз adopted my US born husband.

    BTW, have you decided on your new collection acquisitions?

    • Thank you, Olga! I’m glad we share similar memories about Christmas and I’m really happy I’ve got a chance to add this wonderful holiday to my life.

      When a waiter at my favorite Indian restaurant addresses me “Madam” I still can’t believe it’s my life and it’s happening to me :)

      I have decided on the FBs that will join my collection. I still need to order one bottle but after that I’ll be all set and will announce my personal winners.

  14. Pingback: Holidays and Christmas and used bookstores « Pieces of paper, squiggly lines

  15. Pingback: O Tannenbaum! blog event — a belated post « Perfume in Progress

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