National Sense of Smell Day – Last Saturday in April
National Sense of Smell Day is observed on the last Saturday of April every year. The sense of smell is the most powerful and emotional of all the senses, it is tied to the side of the brain that processes memories and emotions. National Sense of Smell Day focuses on how the sense of smell plays an important role in our daily life, and how it is connected to other senses of our body like the taste.
Smell has been called our most underappreciated sense and we take it as granted. When people think about it, if they think about it at all, many consider it an evolutionary relic–something that is important for animals, but not for us humans.
But have you ever thought about what it would be like to not be able to smell something? The complete loss of smell is called anosmia (an-OHZ-me-uh). Without your sense of smell, food tastes different, you can’t smell the scent of a flower, and you could find yourself in a dangerous situation, unknowingly.
The Basics of Smell
A person’s sense of smell is driven by certain processes. First, a molecule released from a substance (such as fragrance from a flower) must stimulate special nerve cells (called olfactory cells) found high up in the nose. These nerve cells then send information to the brain, where the specific smell is identified.
The sense of smell plays a vital role in finding food, discriminating it from toxic substances, and appreciating its flavor. Anything that interferes with these processes, such as nasal congestion, nasal blockage, or damage to the nerve cells themselves, can lead to loss of smell. Once the cold runs its course, a person’s sense of smell returns. It can also be a symptom of COVID-19.
Sense of Smell institute sponsors the National Sense of Smell Day which is observed since 1994. A nationwide museum-based program is sponsored by the Fragrance Foundation Research and Education, a division of the Sense and Smell Institute. It was proposed that combining fragrances with sensory stimulus and emotion increases the effectiveness of scents.
Dynamics of Smell
The twelve most salient uses of odor for dynamic purposes may be summarized as follows:
1) Establishing group identity through some odor, whether natural, manufactured, symbolic, or some combination of these. For example, East African pastoralists, such as the Dassanetch, smear themselves with cattle products to give themselves a bovine scent. This odour of cattle differentiates them as a group from neighbouring fishermen.
2) Communicating messages through odors. For example the use of different sorts of incense to establish channels of communication with different spirits, each spirit is associated with a different scent.
3) Employing odors as a means of attraction, whether of members of the opposite sex, game animals, or spirits.
4) Employing odors as a means of repulsion, whether of enemies, animals, or evil spirits.
5) Employing odors to enhance one’s chances for success at a particular endeavour, such as in playing games of chance.
6) Employing odors to cleanse and purify, both in ritual and practical contexts, either as an alternative to or in conjunction with the use of water.
7) Employing odors to heal, both directly through the administration of curative smells, and indirectly by creating a pleasant olfactory environment for the patient.
8) Employing odors in rituals of transition, such as weddings and funerals.
9) Employing odors as a means of establishing exchange relations with other persons and groups. For example, giving and receiving products with different odors in rituals of exchange is best exemplified in the Desana practice of exchanging ants of different odors.
10) Employing odor to direct experience. For example, using odoriferous substances to inspire particular kinds of dreams, guide a person through a hallucinogenic trance, or suppress memories of the deceased at a funeral.
11) Attributing the power of olfaction to plants (as among the Wamira of New Guinea) and inanimate objects (as among the Kwoma, also of New Guinea), or attributing an extremely discerning nose to the gods (as among the Batek Negrito of Malaysia), and explaining misfortune in terms of said plants, objects or gods taking offense at the mixing of odors which results from people engaging in forbidden activities.
12) Employing olfactory metaphors to express abstract concepts and values, such as the idea of an “odor soul” among the Temiar.
How to celebrate Sense of Smell Day
To observe the National Sense of Smell Day you can buy a new perfume or cologne. Watch movies and learn about the power of smell. Make some delicious meals to celebrate the sense of smell day. You can share the post on social media using the hashtag #NationalSenseOfSmellDay to bring awareness of the day among your friends.
Suggested Read: National Simplicity Day