The mice had got in.
And as well as demonstrating a rather strange taste for fairy-light cables, they had also muched their way through all the cinnamon decorations and dried oranges, which we’d made in past years :(.
Off we duly trotted to the supermarket to stock up on industrial quantities of cinnamon and apple sauce to make some more.
But the incident put in mind the idea to feature Cinnamon as a seasonal choice for Pick of the Week.
In America, “cinnamon” is often used for the spice usually called “cassia” in the UK — namely Cinnamonum aromaticum, also known as Chinese cinnamon — as well as Indonesian and Vietnamese cinnamon, both of which are different to true Cinnamon (Cinnamonum verum), which grows in Sri Lanka.
Its a popular spice, probably familiar to most from edibles and quaffables such as Danish pastries and mulled wine.
Often sold in powdered form, cinnamon sticks — the preferred form for popping into a mulled wine — give a clue to its origin: the bark of a tree.
But there’s much more to Cinnamon.
It has been known in Europe since ancient times, although the type called kinnamomon by the Ancient Greeks was yet another variety, Cinnamonum iners, a native of the Middle East. The Greeks got the name from the Phoenicians, and a word cognate with the Hebrew qinnamon “cinnamon.”
This was the “cassia” spice of the Bible — from qetsi’āh, the Hebrew name of the tree from which cinnamon was taken — source of the biblical name Keziah. This derives from a root meaning “to strip off,” referring to the way in which the bark is removed to make cinnamon.
Cassia, of course, also makes a rather lovely name choice too.
Herbalists value true cinnamon for its effectiveness in treating colds and flu, as well as easing digestive complaints.
It is used in magic to enhance psychic powers, for protection, and in spells relating to love.
As a given name, Cinnamon is older than some might think, with the first examples dating to the early twentieth century. Mostly used for girls, there are some example of it in use for boys.
It also shortens to nicknames such as Cin, Cinna, Cinny or Cinnie, Mon, Mona, Mony, Monie — even Minnie.
Most use, however, post-dates the appearance of the character Cinnamon Carter in the original television series of Mission: Impossible (1966-73), but it remains highly unusual; seven little girls were called Cinnamon in America in 2010, and less than three, if any, in the UK.
So, if you’re looking for a name for a baby born at yuletide that’s a bit less obvious than Holly or Ivy, why not mull over (pardon the pun) the lovely, spicy Cinnamon?