When we are getting ready for the Christmas holiday and are decorating, many people hang mistletoe above doorways or in the center of the room for people to kiss under. Ever wonder why this occurs or where this practice came from? I will go into the myths around kissing under the mistletoe and what mistletoe actually is. First what is Mistletoe? Mistletoe is actually a parasite (yes people for hundreds of years have been kissing under a parasite!) Mistletoe is a poisonous, evergreen parasitic plant. It grows mostly on softwood trees, such as apple and pine trees. It can even be seen occasionally growing on oak trees. Mistletoe lives off the nutrients from the tree it grows on. Mistletoe is poisonous, especially the leaves. Eating it causes mild to severe gastrointestinal distress. Myths about kissing under the Mistletoe go back to the Greek festival of Saturnalia and then later involved with primitive marriage rites. Other myths about Kissing under the mistletoe say it is a tradition that has been passed on through the generations since the time of the Druids, Celts and the Norse. The Druids believed the mistletoe plant had great powers, especially when it grew on oak trees, as oaks were sacred to the Druids. Another belief was that Mistletoe has the power to bestow fertility. Mistletoe was also considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. During the eighteenth-century, the English credited the Mistletoe a certain magical appeal called a kissing ball. At Christmas time a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with ribbons, and ornaments, could not be refused a kiss. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. Although in some parts of England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on the 12th night so all the boys and girls who have kissed under it would never marry. Other cultures believed that mistletoe was an aphrodisiac. If you want to follow this tradition in your household you do not need to go into the woods to hunt down Mistletoe to hang. You can go to your local craft store and find mistletoe to make your own kissing ball. As you can see kissing under the Mistletoe has a varied and colorful history that has been around for hundreds of years and is still passed on from generation to generation. Now go hang some Mistletoe and join along!
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