- Nov 26, 2016
- central NC
According to The Smithsonian magazine, the romantic symbolization of the mistletoe comes from ancient Norse mythology. Baldur, the grandson of a Norse god, woke up one morning convinced that every plant and animal on earth wanted to kill him. Fearing for Baldur's life, his mother Frigg, the goddess of love, pleaded with all the plants and animals of the world to promise not to harm her son. Unfortunately, she forgot to secure a promise from one plant. You guessed it - the mistletoe. Baldur was soon stabbed to death with an arrow made from mistletoe. The myth goes that the tears his mother cried over him became the berries that can be found on mistletoe and she decried that from that day forward the plant would never be used as a weapon again. Instead she declared it to be a symbol of love and she vowed to bestow a kiss on anyone who walked underneath it.
Mistletoe, in the shape of a heart, hanging from a tree. (Public Domain)
So perhaps that’s why we hang mistletoe and kiss beneath it – it’s a reminder of what Baldur's mother forgot. In truth, it isn’t clear how or when mistletoe first got pulled into all of the Christmas festivities, but its earliest mention seems to come from the work of Charles Dickens and Washington Irving during the Victorian era. This kissing tradition appears to have first caught on among servants in England before spreading to the middle classes. Interestingly, men were allowed to steal a kiss from any woman caught standing under the mistletoe and refusing was viewed as bad luck. Yet another tradition instructed the merrymakers to pluck a single berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, and to stop puckering up once all the berries were gone.
Did you grow up with this tradition? Do you hang mistletoe during the holidays? Please share your experiences under the mistletoe, but remember CWT is a "G" rated site.