Cultural & Historical Context Behind Jasmine Oil
Although Jasmine is commonly considered to be a scent associated with females due to its sensual, nurturing fragrance and delicate, pale flower petals, it is often referred to as the “King of oils/flowers.” It has been suggested that jasmine got the moniker of ‘king’ because it can be considered the most masculine of all floral scents. This is especially true when compared to the more delicate, romantic, feminine “Queen of oils/flowers,” rose. Jasmine actually may be more well-suited to both sexes due to it's heady, almost musky aroma.
The scent of jasmine flowers has for so long been associated with love and romance that the fragrance is widely used on ‘First Nights’ in Asian countries, in which the bride and groom’s room is infused with the scent in order to reduce any anxieties and promote sensuality. In addition, Jasminum sambac has strong roots in traditional Indian culture, with the omnipresent flower present in new brides’ hair. In fact, so many flowers are used during Indian wedding ceremonies that the price of the flower has been known to rise considerably during wedding season.
Likely due to jasmine’s widely appealing fragrance, it is considered the national flower in many cities across the globe. For example, Jasminum officinale is the national flower of Pakistan, while Jasminum sambac has been the national flower of the Philippines since 1934 (source), and of Indonesia since 1990. The flower is often referred to as the ‘Moonlight of the Grove’ in India due to its wide appeal. In these areas, the jasmine flower symbolizes purity, strength, humility, simplicity, and modesty. Perhaps one of the most well-known appearances of the jasmine flower is in the necklace adornment known as the ‘lei’. To celebrate Hawaii’s ‘Lei Day’ on May 1st, Jasminum sambac, known there as pikake, is typically intertwined with ginger to create the leis worn around revelers’ necks. (source)