Thursday, December 16, 2010

The History of Mistletoe

This came to me in an email from a florist shop in Phoenix. I thought you might enjoy knowing the history if you didn't already.

Since Victorian times, mistletoe has been a cherished Christmas decoration if only to provide the excuse for a kiss when hung in a prominent doorway.
The tradition of misletoe finds it's origin in pagan rituals. After the Winter Solstice, Druid priests cut mistletoe down from the Oak trees in a special ceremony.The priests separated the branches and distributed sprigs of mistletoe among the people to protect them from evil. The ancient Celts believed the plant held miraculous healing powers. In fact, the word "mistletoe" in Celtic means "All-Heal".

Scandinavian mythology holds that Baldur, god of peace was slain by Loki, god of destruction with an arrow made from mistletoe. Outraged by the injustice of Baldur s death the other gods and goddesses demanded his life be restored. As a token of thanks, Baldur s mother, Frigga, hung mistletoe and promised to kiss all who passed beneath it, thus establishing the symbolism of love, peace and forgiveness that is now associated with mistletoe.

The use of mistletoe as a romantic lure stems from England as early as the 1500s. In 1520, William Irving wrote that a young man should pluck a berry each time he kisses a young girl beneath the mistletoe. When all the berries are plucked off the mistletoe it no longer has romantic powers.

Mistletoe is an evergreen plant that lives throughout the southern United States, from the Atlantic Coast to California, and on every continent except Antarctica. Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant, found high in the trees. It doesn't take root in the ground, but in the branches of tree itself. Although it gets all its nutrients by taking them from the tree, its presence keeps the tree green throughout the winter.

Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries, United States and Canada.

Happy Holidays,


Bethanne said...

Hi Vicki.
You've won, by second pick, Jaci Burton's All She Wants for Christmas. Another gal never got back to me, so I'm moving on.
Thanks for joining us on Passionate Critters. Please email me and I will get your address to jaci Burton so she can contact you.
Penny Dune

Bethanne said...

here, this might help.

matts1stwife at yahoo dot com

Ann Schach said...

Interesting history of mistletoe!