Mistletoe is one of the weirdest holiday traditions EVER.
As college students and alumni, we have learned to use this plant as a means of getting our foot in the door, or rather, our bodies underneath a doorframe with someone cute. But where did this tradition come from?
What is it about this mysterious plant that gets us in the mood for Christmas lovin’?
What is Mistletoe?
Mistletoe plants belong to a group of hemi-parasitic plants that grow attached to the branches of trees and other shrubs.
European Mistletoe, or Viscum Album, is a poisonous plant that causes acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain and diarrhea. It has been known to decrease pulse rate as well (Wikipedia.com).
While all that sounds VERY appealing, there is actually a myth behind the legendary plant which leads back to many centuries ago.
Where did it all begin?
Mistletoe has long been considered something of an aphrodisiac.
It was once used as symbol of fertility and life, it’s roots deep in Celtic traditions. Mistletoe was cut on the 6th night of the moon by Celtic priests as a symbol of “emasculating” the old king by his successor.
From this, pre-Christian Europeans regarded mistletoe as a symbol of divine male essence and fertility. The plant was also believed to have the power of extinguishing fire. Later, Mistletoe was hung in doorways in an attempt to ward off evil spirits and witches.
The idea of kissing beneath the plant evolved from various folklore, the best being the legend of the Goddess Frigga (it is a long story, click here if you want to read it).
It is believed that if a girl stands beneath mistletoe and she is kissed, the kiss has the power to mean deep romance or lasting friendship.
Traditionally, the plant, which holds several berries, is hung in a doorway. Every time someone shares a kiss beneath it, however, one of the berries must be plucked. Once all of the berries are gone, the kissing privilege no longer exists (or so the story goes).
This holiday season, use the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe as a chance to score some face time with your crush.
If you are both at a party or get-together and there is mistletoe hanging in the door, you should just go for it!
Get creative on how to coax your crush to the doorway and then plant one on him/her. Who knows? Maybe the kiss will lead to deep romance OR at the very least, a lasting friendship (see above).
No mistletoe at the party? Pack some in your bag and hang it up yourself when no one is looking. Don’t have any mistletoe? Grab some branches off a shrub outside, tie a ribbon around them, and call it day.