November 24th, 2007
Do Not Fall Under this Plant’s Spell.
The origin of our tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is lost in the mists of antiquity. Some say it probably stemmed from the Druids, who considered it sacred, and would declare a truce in an area where it grew.
Others say the custom comes from the old festival of Saturnalia, and still others claim it comes from old Norse mythology and the tale of Baldur’s death from a twig of mistletoe. Legend has it that the tears of his mother, Frigga, changed the berries of the mistletoe from red to white.
Whatever the origin of the tradition, most consider it a good deal of light-hearted fun to steal a kiss under the mistletoe. Just be careful who you kiss–a jealous spouse may be lurking.
Despite its use as a holiday decoration and its association with love, peace, and stolen kisses, mistletoe is actually a parasite. It lives on trees and shrubs, tapping into the plant’s nutrients by sending its roots under the bark. Mistletoe can weaken, or even kill, a plant. It is also poisonous (all parts), so keep it out of the reach of children and pets!