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Mistletoe Traditions

There is a lot of folklore regarding this holiday staple which dates back for centuries.

By Cheryl E PrestonPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Mistletoe in snow

Christmas music, trees, and other items have begun popping up in retail stores earlier each year. The official beginning of the season is Black Friday which is the day after Thanksgiving. From this point on we will see the holiday unfold as people celebrate and partake in their seasonal traditions. One of them is kissing under the mistletoe which has an interesting history. Placing a sprig of mistletoe over a doorway in your home or holding it over the head of someone you want to kiss is a fun holiday tradition during the Christmas season. Making use of this ever green herb with red berries dates back thousands of years.

Mistletoe initially was utilized by many ancient cultures because of its healing properties. The Greeks used this herb as a cure for a number of discomforts including menstrual cramps and disorders of the spleen. Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder found that mistletoe could be made into a balm that worked against poisions, ulcers and also epilepsy. It is believed that the romantic aspects of this plant most likely began with the Celtic Druids during the 1st century A.D. Mistletoe could blossom even during the coldest weather and the Druids came to view it as a sacred symbol of vivacity. They began administering the herb to animals as well as humans with the belief of that it would restore fertility.

There is a legend surrounding mistletoe that involved the mythological Norse god Oden, although he does not figure much in the tale. Odeon’s wife was named Frigg and she was the goddess of love. When it was prophesied that their son Baldur would die, Frigg, went into action to protect her child. She did not use any supernatural methods but instead went to all the animals and plants of the natural world. Frigg had everyone of them take an oath that they would not cause any harm to come to her son. Unfortunately, the goddess of love overlooked one plant.

She neglected to consult with the mistletoe, so Loki, the scheming god of mischief sprung into action. He constructed an arrow from the mistletoe plant and made sure that it was used to kill Baldur. In a different version of the story it is said that the gods brought Baldur back from the dead to the delight of his mother. Frigg was so overjoyed that she declared mistletoe to become a symbol of love. Im her gratefulness to have her son back she vowed to plant a kiss on everyone who passed beneath the mistletoe plant.

The association between vitality, fertility and mistletoe continued into the Middle Ages. By the 18th century this plant had become widely incorporated into the celebration of Christmas. There is no specific information available that details how the sacred herb turned into a holiday decoration . It is believed that the kissing tradition from Frigg somehow caught on among servants in England. From there it began spreading to the middle classes. In those early days, men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman who was found standing under the mistletoe. To refuse the kiss was considered to bring bad luck. There was another tradition where a single berry was plucked from the mistletoe with every smooch. Once all the berries were gone, the kissing ended.

There is one more theory regarding how mistletoe made its way into our modern traditions. Early Christians chose December 25 to celebrate the birth of Christ in order to take focus away from the Winter Solstice observance a few days later. It is believed that these Christians began encorporating the customs of the “ pagans” into their holiday and two of them were the Guillermo log and mistletoe. Over the decades the mingling of the folklore and Christmas evolved into the many traditions that are a part of our modern world. Mistletoe, like evergreen trees can survive in the cold of winter and snow. To some they have become symbols of eternal life along with being holiday staples.

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About the Creator

Cheryl E Preston

Cheryl is a poet, freelance writer, published author and former Newspaper columnist. She has degrees in Psycology and Biblical studies. She enjoys sharing natural cures, and Nostalgia related info. Tips are greatly appreciated.

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