It may be a rather mysterious tradition but it certainly has its uses not to mention some fascinating history behind it. Firstly, mistletoe is considered to be the seed of love, the common name of the plant is derived from the ancient belief that mistletoe grew from bird droppings. This strange belief was related to the ancient principle that life could spring spontaneously from dung!
In terms of Myths, Norse God Mythology Frigg, the goddess of love, decided to make the mistletoe a symbol of affection, asking that anyone standing under it be given a kiss of love and forgiveness after experiencing a frightful premonition about murder, the plant was then seen as a symbol of peace rather than revenge.
It was actually the ancient Druids who considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous powers which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. It was also believed that the mistletoe was an aphrodisiac or a sexual symbol!
The actual idea of “kissing” underneath the mistletoe stems from several different cultures however not just one. For example, exchanging kisses under the mistletoe was a tradition of Greek festivals and marital ceremonies. If a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.
The Anglo-Saxons then associated the powers of the mistletoe to the legend of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. The legend tells of a man who had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Men would then pluck a berry when they smooched the girls and when the last berry was gone, there would be no more kissing!
In France, the custom linked to the mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day: "Au gui l'An neuf"--Mistletoe for the New Year. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up.
Whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day. It is from these myths and beliefs that we have come to hang a branch of mistletoe on our ceilings or over our most desired. It is also considered to be a sign of friendship and good will and is full of spiritual zest. The type of Mistletoe used during Christmas celebrations is of the same type as that believed to be sacred by ancient druids.
Other Interesting facts
- Maidens were known to place a sprig of the plant under their pillow at night in the same manner a child places his or her lost tooth in anticipation for the Tooth Fairy! But rather than receiving a 50 pence piece the sprig of Mistletoe allows women to dream of their Prince Charming with the hope it may come true!
- Burning a mistletoe plant is also thought to foretell a woman’s marital bliss. A mistletoe that burns steadily was said to predict a healthy marriage, whilst fickle flames were said to predict a partner that was not stable or well suited.
- Mistletoe is widely viewed as a symbol of love and fertility, it is also known to be the representative of peace as so many ancient confirm.
- Druids consider it to be a sacred plant and in history it was believed to have medicinal qualities along with mysterious supernatural powers.
- It was thought around 100 A.D that Mistletoe could was miraculous in some way and that it could help cure diseases and protect people from witches.
- Mistletoe is actually a parasite -- a plant that grows on another plant.
- Mistletoe is toxic to people, but the berries and leaves provide high-protein food for many animals.
- Many bird species rely on mistletoe for food and nesting material. Butterflies lay their eggs on the plants and use the nectar as food. Mistletoe is also an important pollen and nectar plant for bees.
- What might be so refreshing about Mistletoe is the act of goodwill and is again another reason why lovers may choose to kiss underneath it! To prove their feelings of love.
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