In many parts of the world, it is tradition to hang mistletoe twigs on Christmas as it symbolizes love, closeness and goodwill. Mistletoe is a hemi-parasitic or partial parasitic plant which is commonly used for the decoration purpose on Christmas. Since ancient times, it has been a part of legend, folklore and superstition. It is sacred tree and known for its healing power, giving protection against the evil of witchcraft and curing disease. So many stories surround behind the history of mistletoe plant.
Mistletoe plant is considered as one of the most important symbols of Christmas. It is a pretty green plant which grows on other host trees for example poplar, hawthorn, oak, apple, and lime. This plant is devoid of root system so it depends on other plant for minerals and water but it can able to make photosynthesis and to generate its own food. The plant bears slim leaves and small berries. The plant is toxic for pets. It is very attractive and easy to use for decorating on Christmas.
History of Mistletoe:
200 years before the birth of Christ, Druid priests had first used Mistletoe during winter celebrations. The ancient Celtics thought mistletoe was divine plant as it has magical healing power and used in infertility, and as a poison antidote. Also, it has no roots and grows on other plants and remains green throughout the cold months of winter.
The ancient Scandinavians considered that mistletoe is a "plant of peace", blessed by the deity of love. They believed that if enemies met beneath this plant, then they would stop fighting, lay down their arms and make up good relation.
The history of Christmas Mistletoe is also related with Norse myth. Baldur was the God of vegetation in Norse myth and the son of Norse goddess, Frigga. On the birth of Baldur, the goddess created each objects including every plant that it will not cause any damage to Baldur. Onetime, her attention was escaped by the mistletoe plant and this default was taken into consideration by Loki who was the enemy of Baldur. The crafty Loki adopted a trick to kill Baldur and consequently, Baldur was murdered by a pike prepared of mistletoe.
When Baldur was died, winter arrived in this world and to stabilize this condition, the Gods rendered Baldur to life. Then, mistletoe plant was announced as sacred plant by Frigga that would carry love among people. After that, when two people come beneath mistletoe plant, they kiss and celebrate the revival of Baldur. Christmas mistletoe is revered as an aphrodisiac so it has been also related with kissing. Still people follow the custom of “kissing under the mistletoe".
Mistletoe plant has also some magical power. History shows the fact that Greek believed the plant have some numinous powers. Many folklore customs are related with the plant. When twigs of mistletoe plant were hung from ceilings, it gives protection to home in opposition to evil spirits. To chase off the witches, mistletoe branches were put at the entrance doors in Europe.
In Victorian times, Mistletoe plant was extensively used by Victorian ladies. They are the inventors of the “kissing balls" of mistletoe. They made the “kissing balls" by covering apples or potatoes with mistletoe, other herbs and ribbons and hung them at doorways. Public kissing was scowled upon during these times.
By taking a look at the history of Christmas mistletoe, all of us can know that the mistletoe plant is the plant of peace. It was the symbol of hardiness and survival. Besides this, mistletoe is also believed as the mark of peace and benevolence.
As the time passed, people have begun to use mistletoe plant for decoration purpose in all aspect of the celebrations of Christmas. Since then, it was extensively used in all decorations of Christmas including Christmas tree, gift-wrapping, decorating homes and Christmas wreaths.
Decoration with Christmas Mistletoe:
- According to the old custom, the plant can be hung at the entrance of home. To fix the mistletoe, you have to only require a couple of slender nails. To add instant cheer, attach mistletoe with brightly colored and festive ribbons.
- It is also tradition to hung mistletoe plant on a light fixture.
- Floral garland’s beauty can be increased by adding twigs of Mistletoe. To give a different and attractive appearance to your Christmas tree, add some fresh twigs of mistletoe to your garlands and attach it to your Christmas tree.
- For the preparation of beautiful Christmas wreath, make some space to add Christmas mistletoe in to your wreath.
- By the use of Styrofoam ball and some real mistletoe, prepare your own Victorian kissing ball. You can also garnish this ball with bells and ribbons.
- If you are planning for dinner party, then purchase small vases and place a twig of mistletoe at the table at each persons place. For the candlelight dinner, place Mistletoe around the bases of candle holders which create beautiful mini wreaths.
- You can also put mistletoe in drawer of your loved one or under your pillow to show him and given him surprise when you are ready for bed.
Plant’s toxicity for Pets:
Mistletoe is Toxic and may become poisonous for animals. Mistletoe is available in several species and each species have different symptoms in different animals. “American mistletoe most often causes depression and vomiting in cats and dogs, but this plant and others in the mistletoe family have the potential to cause more serious signs, such as low blood pressure and cardiovascular collapse,” as per the ASPCA.
Kissing beneath the mistletoe:
Kissing under the mistletoe is most likely initiated from two beliefs. First belief is related with its power of fertility and second belief is associated with its "life-giving" power. It was first found during the Greek festival of Saturnalia. During Christmas time, a young lady who stands beneath a ball of mistletoe cannot say no to be kissed. It is believed that such kiss is a symbol of long lasting friendship or deep romance and goodwill. Couple who kissed beneath the mistletoe had assured of pleasure, long life and good luck in the subsequent year. A girl who remains unkissed cannot expect her marriage in the following year.
In many European countries and also in Canada, still many people follow the custom of exchanging a kiss beneath the mistletoe. The custom related to mistletoe was kept for New Year's Day in the France. Nowadays, it is tradition among people to exchange kiss beneath the mistletoe any time throughout the holiday season.
Today, mistletoe plant became inaccessible due to a loss of its main host and a continuing decline of traditional orchards. Recently the most essential nature conservation organization of Europe, the National Trust has launched a new campaign to encourage people for securing the future of mistletoe plant. The campaign is encouraging people to purchase home-grown mistletoe to run up Christmas and for the celebration of office parties. It also encourages shoppers to inquire about the mistletoe where the plant has derived from. Mistletoe may be a premium product if it became more inaccessible.
Mistletoe: What's with all the kissing? video from youtube:
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