In Season - Mistletoe

by The Editors
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holly-and-mistletoe.jpgMistletoe

Along with holly, laurel, rosemary, yews and the Christmas tree, mistletoe is an evergreen displayed during the holiday season and symbolic of the eventual rebirth of vegetation that will occur in spring. But perhaps more than any other of the Christmas evergreens, it is a plant of which we are conscious only during the holidays. One day we're kissing under the mistletoe, and next day we've forgotten all about it.

The Druids considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous properties which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. Moreover, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day. From this has seemingly come the ancient custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

Another version, however, says that this custom, which was widespread among the Anglo-Saxons, was connected to the legend of Freya, goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Even if the pagan significance has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as North America. It was once believed that if a couple in love exchanged a kiss under the mistletoe, it was a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life. So, be careful who you choose to smooch this holiday season!

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