Allure of linden

Allure of linden

The scent of linden must be like the sirens of seas that lured sailors by their captivating appeal. One cannot pass by near a linden tree on a late June night, without taking a moment to take a deep breath and then looking around in darkness in search of the source of the magical scent. The fragrance of the blooming linden flower is unmistakably magnetic; it is impossible to remain aloof to its allure.

Known also as a lime tree in English, linden (Tilia cordata) is a much-adored tree in Turkey and other European countries. So much so that it has become symbolic of certain countries. Trees, in general, have this organic link between humans. The tree cult is essentially important in pagan and shamanistic belief systems. Wood has been a primordial material for mankind since the discovery of fire but more so for its innumerous uses as raw material to be turned into a countless number of tools and artifacts, I would say, especially before the invention of plastics. Trees are used for their bark, fiber, wood, branches, leaves, fruits, buds, nut, sap and all and are home to bees and birds, other crucial components of wild life. Trees are believed to be symbols of life with all its positive aspects. They represent the life cycle every year, seemingly dying every winter and giving birth to new life every spring. They endure disasters of nature, they stand against harsh conditions of nature, and miraculously they return back to life. Trees, in short, stand for hope!

The linden tree holds a special sacred place in symbolism, representing love, affection and tenderness. In the Zodiac, it is affiliated with Gemini, Sagittarius and Taurus and related to Jupiter, Mercury and the Sun. In both Greek and Roman mythology, linden is symbolic for marital love and fidelity: It is the tree of both Aphrodite and Venus. Linden is believed to neutralize negative energy. The Chinese believe that linden decreases forgetfulness, tames rebelliousness and gives soft energy, creating the sensation of warmth and peace. Peaceful it is: The linden flower’s foremost medicinal property is the power as a sedative. Drink a cup of nicely brewed linden tea before going to bed, preferably sweetened with a spoonful of linden honey, and you are guaranteed to be in the loving cradle of sleep.

In Germanic countries, linden has a particular place related not only to fortune, fidelity, love and truth, but also to justice. Judgments were made and verdicts were announced “under Tilia.” It was believed to unite people, bring peace, and that is why to gather under a linden tree to play music and dance is customary for many European cultures. In the Slavic culture, linden is a sacred tree named “lipa.” In Poland, there are several towns that are tagged as “Święta Lipka,” aka the “Holy Linden Tree.” In Romanian belief, it stands for divine presence. Linden trees have a long life. There are many centuries-old trees that have become landmarks, a few believed to be at least a millennia old. It is a national emblem in countries like Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, even depicted in flags. Funnily, the Turkish word for linden is “ıhlamur.” In Ottoman texts, it’s called “ıflamur,” coming from the Greek word, “flamúron,” which has its roots in Latin “flammula” or “flamma,” which means a little flag or flame. The connection is blurry, but in my mind a linden blossom is like the flag of early summer, sparking a flame of love and peace in hearts.

These early summer days are perfect to cherish the beauty of the divine linden tree. When there is a sudden summer rain, find refuge under a linden tree, or dance under one with a glimpse of full moon smiling at you through its branches, or just sit under a linden branch and inhale its majestic perfume. Wish something and thank life for being close to a linden tree. Wish to come back next year to do the same… and keep your hopes in life alive!

Fork of the Week: Ever heard of linden-flavored Turkish delight? Traditionally, there are so many flower flavors, from rose to violet, that are used in Turkish delight, but linden flavor never existed before. It is still a wonder to me why the great confectioners of Ottoman court kitchens did not think of it, but now it exists. Created in Thrace and in the town of Vize in the district of Kırklareli, it is sublime and smooth, faintly smelling of spring linden flowers. The town of Vize is one of the few Cittaslow (slow city movement) in Turkey, and among many other things, the town is reputed for its linden trees. They also make linden cologne, not to mention good linden honey. Worth a visit these days!

Cork of the Week: Good news came from the Balkans International Wine Competition and Festival. A winery from Turkish Thracia, together with a winery from Bulgaria, was listed as Best Winery in the Balkans, with a 2018 product chosen as The Best of Show of Turkey. Another winery from Thrace had good news too. One of their energetic products has won a Double Gold Award, followed by a red again. Note that both wineries are quite close to Vize, the only Cittaslow town in Thrace, so there is another good reason to have a weekend escapade to the region, either to find a linden tree, or visit a vineyard.

lime, linden tree, Turkish delight, wine