Mistletoe. How did a parasitic evergreen plant with poisonous berries become associated with kisses? It was described in 1820 by American author Washington Irving in his “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon“:
“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.
Mistletoe is very prominent in the Norse myth of the death of Baldur. He dreamt of his death, and lest it come true… his mother Frigg, Goddess of Love, had all living creatures swear to do Baldur no harm. Except the mistletoe, omitted for no apparent reason. Leave it to Loki, the Trickster, to wreck havoc and trick blind Hodor, Lord of Winter, into slaying Baldur. Frigg’s tears of despair were said to crystalize into the white mistletoe berries. Baldur was resurrected, long story short. Mistletoe became a symbol of love and peace, not death.
Mistletoe, which was sacred to Celtic Druids because it mysteriously grew on the most sacred tree, the oak, was ceremoniously cut and a spray given to each family, to be hung in the doorways as good luck. Druid priests cut it from the tree on which it grew with a golden sickle and handed it to the people, calling it All-Heal. To hang it over a doorway or in a room was to offer goodwill to visitors. Kissing under the mistletoe was a pledge of friendship.
|Mistletoe Santa – antique postcard.
|Mistletoe dress! What holiday finery!
The evolution of the “Kissing ball”
Originally, during England’s Middle Ages, “holy boughs”—made from interlocking evergreen
branches and supporting figurines of baby Jesus or the holy family—graced passages. Throughout the holiday season, the holy bough hung from entryways as an omen of goodwill for embracing visitors.
After a period of unpopularity, thanks to the Puritans, Victorians brought the holy bough back from obscurity, refurbished with a new look and a new name. It now became an elaborately decorated apple or potato replete with herbs and foliage. The herbs on each “kissing ball” were not only chosen for their beauty, but also for their symbolic value. Lavender and rosemary signified loyalty and devotion, while thyme promoted courage. Mistletoe was a popular decorative choice symbolizing good fortune and fertility.
The kissing ball began to emphasize romance, rather than mere good will. Dancers waltzed under the kissing ball laced with mistletoe for a peck, and single women stood in wait for potential suitors. Eventually, sprigs of mistletoe superseded all other greenery and became the enduring symbol of holiday affection that we know today. (motherearthliving.com)
I think I will try this this season, it looks simple enough, and I love the smell of fresh greens in the house!
Thanks for stopping by! And please feel free to browse our shops. As the season starts today with Black Friday we have many sales and tempting treasures… You can find all the details at our Holiday Open House