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The scent of orange blossoms is bringing the world to a spring tradition in Morocco

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RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Orange blossoms are among Morocco’s quintessential fragrances. Moroccan women are welcoming spring by collecting the waxy white blossoms in copper pots used to distill the scent that’s folded into honey-laden pastries, sprinkled on mint tea and used in religious ceremonies as an ode to paradise.

The annual ceremony in homes across the North African kingdom has attracted international attention. It is now being showcased at the Zahria Festival in Marrakech.

Between 400 and 600 people gathered over the weekend for the festival hosted by Al Muniya Association, celebrating the blooms and savoring the rainfall that is infrequent the rest of the year.

“It’s an old tradition, and it was necessary to give it new life after it was a little bit forgotten in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Jaafar el-Kenousi, the association’s co-founder.

Orange blossoms bloom throughout Morocco but are especially common in Marrakech, home to a particularly fragrant sour and bitter orange tree.

As Morocco’s status grows as a tourist destination, the orange blossom fragrance is increasingly known among visitors and professional perfumers.

The distillation has been recognized as part of Morocco’s heritage by the government and the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The event now seeks recognition from UNESCO, el-Kenousi said.

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