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Christmas Traditions: Mistletoe


While the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is a long-standing and Christmas tradition, the mistletoe plant itself is anything but romantic.


A parasitic plant that grows on trees along the eastern coast of North America, mistletoe was believed to have been spread through bird droppings. In fact, the word "mistel" is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning "dung" and "toe" means "twin". So mistletoe quite literally means "dung on a twig."


If that image doesn't make you want to pucker up, consider this: Mistletoe has also long been believed to carry magical powers. The Druids believed that mistletoe, which also grows on oak trees throughout Europe, represented the tree's soul and sexual prowess. The mistletoe would be gathered mid-summer and mid-winter and used to decorate one's home. During the Middle Ages, mistletoe branches were hung to protect homes from evil spirits. Northern Europeans believed that mistletoe could help ward off witches.


The very first people to believe in the magic of mistletoe were the ancient Greeks. The ancient Greeks thought that mistletoe was imbued with the powered fertility, an antidote to poison, and also a powerful aphrodisiac.


In fact, during the festival of Saturnalia, the ancient Greeks would kiss under the mistletoe, which later became customary during marriage rites as well.


The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe on Christmas emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages. The original custom held that each time a man kissed a woman under a twig of mistletoe, he should remove one of the berries. Once all the berries were gone, no more kissing could take place under that twig.







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Related Articles:
When is Christmas?
The History of Christmas
Poinsettias: The Horticultural History of the Christmas Plant
The Christmas Tree
Christmas Eve Traditions


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Comments
Comment
shobhit from India
12:26 12/24/2010
 
my best friend
Comment
coda from North Carolina, US
11:36 12/16/2010
 
sup
Comment
roger
11:10 12/14/2010
 
whos want to come with me under the mistletoe
Comment
Brenda from Virginia, US
13:59 12/23/2009
 
I look forward to the day we kiss under the mistletoe. Merry Christmas and I love you very very much Terry
Comment
Breanna from South Carolina, US
09:23 12/02/2009
 
hello earthlings:) wow i never knew how much history the mistletoe really had. I guess you learn something new every day. Have a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year:)
Comment
Travis from Georgia, US
23:36 09/30/2009
 
Travis, I know what is the mistletoe specially when it is used to decorate over the bed. It's very nice! What I didn't know was the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe... May God give you a wonderful night sleep!! Kisses, Elizabeth
Comment
Lacareena from Indonesia
20:43 12/19/2008
 
HoPing u wUd hAve a veRy MerRy ChriStmAs. . Its the sEasOn for"giving"
Comment
achi from India
00:36 12/18/2008
 
hey friends merry christmas...!!!!!!!!!!!! remember its the season of peace and love.......
Comment
clara from Georgia, US
14:29 12/11/2008
 
is it possible to download one of your pages to my multiply background? thanks......clara


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