When it comes to holiday romance, nothing symbolizes the season better than a sprig of mistletoe hanging overhead. Kissing under the mistletoes is a fun custom with very old roots. How did this poisonous plant that is actually a parasite come to signal that couples should stand underneath it and smooch? What does mistletoe have to do with Christmas and romantic attraction?
What is Mistletoe?
There are actually more than 1,300 species of mistletoe worldwide. Only two types are native to the US. The one we hang at Christmas in hopes of a kiss is called American mistletoe. The other is dwarf mistletoe. The quality that all mistletoe varieties have in common is they grow as parasites on other trees and bushes.
The dark evergreen leaves and small white or red berries of mistletoe certainly look nice as a part of holiday décor. Along with holly and other types of evergreen, mistletoe is a traditional plant for decorating during the Christmas season. But where did the kissing tradition come from?
Many ancient cultures used mistletoe in one way or another. In Britain, the Druids used mistletoe in their winter solstice ceremonies. They believed it had medicinal benefits and special powers.
Kissing underneath the mistletoe seems to have its origins in ancient Scandinavian myth. The myth is connected to the story of the god Baldur, who was killed with a sprig of mistletoe. Baldur’s death brought winter. He was eventually resurrected, and thus, the gods declared that mistletoe was now a sacred plant that should bring love into the world instead of death. Baldur’s resurrection would be celebrated by kissing under the mistletoe.
Still another facet of this odd plant’s personality was its supposed attributes as an aphrodisiac, as well as an element that could boost fertility.
Who Named the Plant Mistletoe?
The word mistletoe is just as old as the plant itself. In the days before scientific categorization, it was observed that the mistletoe plant often seemed to pop up on branches where birds had left droppings. Many point to the old Anglo-Saxon words “mistel,” meaning dung, and “tan,” meaning twig, as the source of the name.
While the thought of dung on a twig doesn’t sound related to a Christmas kiss, the quaint custom of hanging mistletoe remains a holiday favorite. Add some mistletoe to your festivities and enjoy the romance that blossoms.
Romance your Christmas Stationery
Are you looking for a fun theme for your Christmas bash this year? Consider a contemporary mistletoe invitation with a lime green background and a charming young lady decked in Santa attire, holding mistletoe above her head. It’s sure to get guests in the mood to enjoy a holiday party.
Use mistletoe as your theme in party decorations and include a sprig in every doorway. Put on a Santa hat and lure that special someone under the mistletoe for a Christmas kiss.