When it comes to Christmas and New Year’s traditions, mistletoe is probably the most well-known and the one you’re either most looking forward to or most apprehensive about. There really is no middle ground when it comes to the tradition of being kissed under the mistletoe, yet the question at Sir Holiday became where on earth did this tradition come from and why mistletoe of all things is what we chose for it? Hence, with all of these questions sweeping over the office it was time to begin searching for the history behind mistletoe and all of its traditions during the festive season.
The plant in itself is quite special on its own, because although it is capable of growing on its own and being entirely self-sufficient, it is traditionally a parasitic plant feeding off of other plants. Now that doesn’t sound like a plant that is truly engaging in the spirit of the festive season, however in ancient cultures such as the Celts the mistletoe that fed on the Oak tree was extremely rare and therefore was used in many ceremonies and rituals. The European cultures bestowed many favorable qualities on the plant, such as a way to entice fertility, a potent aphrodisiac and was also used as a medicinal front against wounds infected with poison. Later on it was thought as an effective way to send malevolent spirits and forces away from your homes; maybe it’s time to contact Hollywood and tell them the way to stop poltergeists and demons isn’t ghost hunters but really mistletoe? You never know, the movie industry could forever be revolutionized.
Now onto the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, where did that come from, well it all goes back to fertility because it seems in-laws have been obsessed with grandchildren instantly for many, many generations. Kissing under the mistletoe may have begun as a way of symbolizing the abundance of fertility between the newly married couple during the darker ages within Europe. Furthermore, there was a popular belief held during these times that mistletoe had the power to grant life to people who kissed under it. In addition, mistletoe was seen as a plant that could bring people together, it could encourage distant couples to rejoin together and it could aid in negotiation efforts during times of war. This plant just seems to hold endless benefits, however how is mistletoe used at Christmas nowadays?
In modern England, if you find yourself standing underneath the mistletoe you may be getting a kiss whether you like it or not, because as the adage goes if you get kissed under the mistletoe at Christmas you will be married by next year’s festive season. In some places they take it so seriously that they will burn the mistletoe after the advent period has finished so as to ensure that all of the people who got kissed during that season will most certainly get married. Regardless of whether or not you believe in the superstitions, the tradition sure does make for a lot of fun during the festive season.
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