What kind of plant is the Mistletoe and where does it come from? And, where did the holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originate?
My inquiring mind wanted to know…..does yours?
It was my friend Cheri, or what I refer to her as my “whatever” who shared with me the story of after her and Mel got married, they were driving down a street and Mel pointed out the plants growing in the tops of oak trees along the roadsides.
He reminisced about how in his youth, he’d climb trees to cut down the mistletoe and make wreathes which he sold door to door for extra money during the Holiday.
Mistletoe is commonly found growing as a parasitic plant. There are two types of mistletoe.
The mistletoe that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration called (Phoradendron flavescent) is native to North America and grows as a parasite on trees from New Jersey to Florida.
The other type of mistletoe, (Viscum Album) is of European origin.
The use of Mistletoe goes back to the times of the ancient Druids.
They didn’t kiss under it, they believed the plant, especially a rare species that grew on oak trees, to have sacred powers including the ability to heal illnesses, protect against nightmares, and even predict the future.
The Druids would hang the plant in their houses hoping it would bring them good luck and ward off evil spirits.
In Norse mythology, Mistletoe was used as a sign of love and friendship. That’s where it’s believed the custom of kissing under Mistletoe comes from.
Mistletoe continued to be associated with fertility and vitality through the Middle Ages. By the 18th century it also became incorporated into Christmas celebrations around the world.
Victorian England is credited with perpetuating the tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe.
The custom dictated that a man was allowed to kiss any woman standing underneath Mistletoe and bad luck would befall any woman who refused the kiss.
One variation on the tradition was with each kiss a berry was to be plucked from the mistletoe and the kissing must stop after all the berries had been removed. Thus, the traditions which began with the European mistletoe were transferred to the similar American plant with the process of immigration and settlement.
How many of you decorate your homes with a sprig of Mistletoe (real or artificial) and follow the romantic tradition of couples kissing when caught standing under it?
And oh, by the way…..it’s a worthy mention the Mistletoe plant is poisonous, so please don’t eat it……Just Kiss!
I hope you enjoyed this break from the norm and our first Holiday edition blog.
Stay tuned next week for Holiday edition #2.