The history of Mistletoe

Mistletoe - History and Tradition

A romantic tradition to be certain, kissing under the mistletoe. It is a popular custom, of course, with couples around the world enjoying the opportunity that this gives for a bit of affection. But where does this custom come into being?

Mistletoe enjoys a position in ancient mythology. In the legends of the Norse gods, the mistletoe is a key symbol in the death of the god Baldur. As such, it gained the symbolism of death and rebirth. It was presumed by similar cultures to be a medicinal herb, and the Greeks believed it gave life-giving and fertility. And yet, with all of these aspects, the current tradition was not recorded until as late as the 16th century. The earliest indications are in the country of Britain. Washington Irving wrote in a book about Christmas, “"The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases." The convoluted symbolism of this single plant has turned itself into a romantic rendezvous, giving the holiday a charming tradition that continues even to this day.

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