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National Sense of Smell Day – April 29, 2023

National Sense of Smell Day is an annual event held on the last Saturday in April to start the conversation around the sense of smell. Smell is one of the five senses and helps people to recognize any harmful substances in their environment, for example, in their food or in the surrounding air. As people age, there is a natural decline in the sense of smell. The reduced ability to smell makes it vital to raise awareness about detecting such loss in the early stages so as to prevent it from getting worse by taking appropriate remedial action.

History of National Sense of Smell Day

National Sense of Smell Day was founded in 1994 by the Sense of Smell Institute (S.S.I.), the research division of The Fragrance Foundation. Various activities, designed to help children understand the importance of the sense of smell, are organized at museums and educational institutions across the U.S. One of the main reasons behind celebrating this day is to realize the role that the sense of smell plays in our daily lives.

The day also creates public awareness about the various types of disorders related to olfaction, the technical term used for the sense of smell, that has been recently discovered. Anosmia, for example, is a medical condition where people cannot smell. Another rare sensory condition is hyperosmia where people become hypersensitive to certain smells.

In evolution, the sense of smell is believed to be the oldest sense that nearly all living creatures used to have. Before the evolution of the sense of sight or touch, creatures used their sense of smell to detect dangers around them.

Aristotle was one of the first philosophers to write about the capacity to smell. Although no study or theory defines the olfactory system in detail, two American scientists, Dr. Richard Axel and Dr. Linda B. Buck did however conduct thorough research on how people perceive different odors in 1991. Their findings won them the Nobel Prize in 2004.

National Sense of Smell Day timeline

1370
Europe Creates its First Modern Perfume

‘Hungary Water’ becomes the world's first modern perfume.

1935
Rene Maurice Gattefosse Invents Aromatherapy

The concept of aromatherapy is introduced by chemist Gattefosse.

1949
The Fragrance Foundation is Set Up

An educational trust is established in New York for the fragrance industry.

1973
The First FiFi Ceremony Takes Place

The Fragrance Foundation organizes a ceremony in New York for the fragrance community.

National Sense of Smell Day FAQs

What does the smell sense do?

The sense of smell helps to detect potential hazards and dangers. It helps us identify different flavors. Many wild animals use their sense of smell to communicate with each other.

What activates your sense of smell?

The airborne molecules that you breathe in attach themselves to receptor cells contained in the mucus membrane of the nose.

Can you lose smell without taste?

Both of these senses work in tandem and a loss of smell will most likely affect your sense of taste.

How to Celebrate National Sense of Smell Day

  1. Make your own perfume at home

    Making perfumes at home is not as difficult as it sounds. If you’re allergic to certain ingredients used in perfumes, then experimenting at home is worth a try. Perfumes contain a blend of essential oils, base oil, alcohol, and water.

  2. Play a scent memory game

    A scent memory game is a fun way to spend some quality time with family and friends. Place different types of sauces, fruits, flowers, vegetables, and spices in paper cups. Blindfold the players and ask them to guess what's inside the cup by smelling it. The player who gets the most number of correct guesses wins.

  3. Decorate your home with scented candles

    Put scented candles in decorative trays or candle stands and place them in your lounge. This helps create a warm and cozy atmosphere as you relax in your living room. Scented candles also create a welcoming mood for guests.

5 Facts About Perfume That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Meat odor

    The ‘Bacon Classic’ is a meat-inspired perfume that smells like fried pork.

  2. Rat poop in perfume

    The ‘Hyraceum’ perfume contains feces of rodents.

  3. An unusual ingredient

    Chanel’s ‘Cuir de Russie’ contains beaver tail oil.

  4. Scents and sensibility

    Our olfactory system ignores smells that we’re exposed to every day.

  5. The best place to spray

    Pulse points emit heat and are perfect for spraying perfume onto.

Why We Love National Sense of Smell Day

  1. We learn about the benefits of the olfactory system

    The sense of smell of humans is less developed when compared to that of other species. Still, it plays a vital role in our daily lives because it helps to detect potential danger.

  2. It highlights the therapeutic benefits of scents

    The fragrance of certain herbs and spices is believed to have therapeutic benefits by stimulating the olfactory system. Extracts of different flowers infused in oils and candles may help to reduce stress and relax our minds and bodies. People suffering from various chronic health conditions can also benefit from the soothing effects of aromatherapy.

  3. People learn about the latest fragrance market trends

    Colognes and perfumes play a role in the overall grooming and hygiene practices. Today, these products have become part of our daily lives as the perfume trade has grown over the years. National Sense of Smell Day is backed by the Fragrance Foundation which supports various fragrance companies and educates people about the developments in the industry.

National Sense of Smell Day dates

YearDateDay
2022April 30Saturday
2023April 29Saturday
2024April 27Saturday
2025April 26Saturday
2026April 25Saturday

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