Christmas traditions run deep in most households and can include anything from going out to buy the tree to putting up the lights on the front porch. Another Christmas tradition that is popular in many households is putting up some mistletoe, typically in a doorway. If you happen to find yourself underneath the mistletoe, you may just get an unexpected kiss.
As far as young couples are concerned, this is a Christmas tradition that is well worth considering. At other times, it may just be a little awkward. It may also leave you wondering why you would put up such a plant in your home and then follow this tradition blindly? When did it become a tradition to kiss under the mistletoe? It’s actually an interesting story that involves mythology from the Druids, Romans, and others.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that feeds off of other plants in the wild. Some may consider it to be almost a romantic relationship but that isn’t why mistletoe involves kissing. Slate said that the Druids were aware of the romantic powers of mistletoe during the first century. They thought that “mistletoe, taken in drink, will impart fecundity (fertility) to all animals that are barren.” They considered it to be good luck when they hung mistletoe over the door. Pliny the Elder, a first-century Roman may also have something to do with the romantic reputation of mistletoe. Although he considered the belief of the Druids to be folly, it did stick as a part of Norse mythology.
Frigga, the goddess of love and marriage was also involved. That goddess loved her son, Baldur to the extent that she and his wife got together to make sure that the plants and animals in the earth would not hurt him. Mistletoe was the only plant that escaped that promise. Loki, the God of mischief discovered the mistake and made a mistletoe spear to kill Baldur. It sounds like an interesting story but in some versions, Frigga’s tears over her son’s death turned into the berries of the mistletoe. They brought her son back to life, so she considered mistletoe to be a symbol of love. Smithsonian magazine says, “Mistletoe would come to hang over our doors as a reminder to never forget. We kiss beneath it to remember what Baldur’s wife and mother forgot.”
In our homes at Christmastime today, mistletoe does not just stand for motherly love but rather, for romance. Fox News said that this may have got its start during the 18th century. Druid lore may have inspired British servants who thought that it was appropriate to steal a kiss under the mistletoe. That tradition soon spread elsewhere and it continues to be found in practice in many parts of the world. In a story written by Charles Dickens in 1836, the practice of kissing under the mistletoe is mentioned.
The tradition said that it’s bad luck to refuse to be kissed under the mistletoe. That being said, make sure that you don’t eat the berries because they may be poisonous. It’s an interesting tradition that has its roots in ancient history.