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Oh Mistletoe! We have grown up seeing it as a symbol of love. Find yourself under the Mistletoe and you will receive a kiss from someone you love. But, have you ever wondered why we have this Christmas tradition?
It goes back to European folklore. For centuries, mistletoe has been seen and used for more than just a kiss. In European folklore, it was thought to give life and fertility and used as a protection against poison. It was also as an aphrodisiac. Mistletoe is used during Christmas and New Year, but it could be used during Halloween. In Europe, it was put above doorways to prevent the entrance of witches and in the Middle Ages, it was hung to ward off evil spirits. Far from romantic!
But, I know you are wondering where the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came from. Of course there are many stories of where it started. One story of how the tradition started is from the Goddess Frigga, goddess of love. Frigga had a son named Balder, who was the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream that he was going to die. Frigga was going to try to keep this from happening. She asked all the animals, plants, earth, air, water, and fire that they would not hurt her son, that, if they did, all life on earth would be lost. They agreed that Balder would not be hurt by anything on earth or under the earth, but Frigga had forgot one thing. Balder had a enemy, Loki, the god of evil. He found one plant that Frigga had forgot, Mistletoe. It didn’t grow on earth or under the earth, it grew on the oak, apple, and willow trees. Loki made a mistletoe arrow and gave it to Hoder, the god of winter, who was blind. Hoder shot the arrow and it struck Balder, which killed him. For three days, the elements tried to bring Balder back to life. Frigga ended up bringing her son back to life. The white berries are said to be the tears she cried for Balder. After, whoever walked under the tree the mistletoe came from, Frigga gave a kiss to. It was believed that whoever stood under the mistletoe would be kissed as a sign of love and no harm would come to them.
A lot of responsibility comes with a kiss under the mistletoe. It is believed that if you turn down a kiss under the mistletoe, you would not get married the next year. It is said if you didn’t burn the mistletoe on the twelfth night, whoever kissed under it would never get married. This was believed in England. No matter what, receiving a kiss under the mistletoe is to bring goodwill, love, friendship, and happiness. If you are in love and kiss under the mistletoe, it is believed to be a promise of marriage. So either way it works out. Be careful though, in some places, they believe that mistletoe has the power to bestow fertility. Don’t be kissing too much. One tradition that can help with that is the belief in England that the berries of the mistletoe were to be picked before you were kissed and when there was no berries, there could be no more kissing. In Scandinavia, it was used to bring spouses back together and help enemies stop fighting.
So the way I look at it is you can’t go wrong with hanging mistletoe at Christmas and New Years. We all have our own traditions. Who knows, one of your traditions could be passed down for centuries.