Vices Exclusive: Incense & Holder

The Lunar New Year coincides with the ramping up of daily life in the West after the lull of the holiday season, with work kicking into high gear and calendars starting to fill up with social obligations once again. It’s at times like that a timeout, a moment for relaxation and meditation and introspection, becomes more important than ever.

Burning incense may not be a cure-all, but it can surely help to calm jangled nerves and bring a moment or two of tranquility. And after the last couple of years, we need all the help we can get achieving it. That’s why we’re delighted to bring you, in the Lunar New Year box, your own sticks of red incense, along with a beautiful brass holder made exclusively for Vices.

Burning incense is a tradition dating back 2,000 years in China, and almost as long throughout the rest of Asia. Incense is typically burned on the eve of the Lunar New Year to honor one’s ancestors. It’s also used to ward off evil spirits, but it’s primarily burned as a form of prayer, lifting one’s message to the gods via smoke and scent.

In Taoism, red incense is associated with asking the gods for a particularly urgent favor. This form of communication requires concentrating on both the request and on communing with the gods — to do otherwise could be construed as offensive. The tradition has morphed and changed somewhat over the centuries, but today we still associate incense with relaxation and contemplation, even if the specific religious meaning isn’t always observed.