Royal Society of Chemistry Myrrh Challenge featured on London Tonight and in The Independent
14 December 2006
To honour the legendary myrrh the Royal Society of Chemistry has - at The Star pub in London - challenged Christmas drinkers and diners to identify a plate of the substance made famous by the Nativity.
The story has been featured on London Tonight, as well as in The Independent, and various national and international papers and websites - including Yahoo News USA.
The Star, renowned for its modelled shining star sign, is in Belgrave Mews West, London, SW1X 8HT. The mews over which the star sign hangs was in earlier centuries used for stabling.
And Christmas drinkers were positively mystified by the plates of myrrh and its sister nativity gift frankincense.
Most drinkers at The Star Pub in Belgravia, London, could not identify either myrrh or frankincense
Many wrinkled noses and puzzled faces later, one Star regular, Michael Powell, emerged victorious, correctly naming both substances and collecting the first prize of £300 of gift vouchers to spend at Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly.
Mr Powell, aged 61, runs a company that supplies furniture components, and lives at Hadley Green, North London.
Two millennia ago one of the three star-led kings was wise enough to select myrrh as a fitting gift for a gentle child born into violent times.
Sixteen centuries later William Shakespeare described how the "medicinable gum" dripped like teardrops from trees in desert and biblical landscapes.
One hundred years ago, in 1906, chemical scientists unveiled its composition to reveal medicinal properties including wound healing. In the 21st century millions of British people use it, unknowingly, daily to improve personal hygiene and health - where it is used in mouthwashes and toothpaste
Christian cultures also celebrate it through carols and the nativity story. Yet myrrh, with a universal mystique that resonates particularly at this time of year, and with its many modern healthcare uses, is almost unrecognised.
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