With the holiday season arriving soon, many people are getting excited to experience the cute traditions that go along with it. One particular romantic tradition is kissing under the mistletoe.
Most people, however, do not know much about the history of this tradition. If you are planning to attach a mistletoe on your timber door jambs this holiday season, know first some of the strange things about this mysterious plant.
Celtic Druids considered it sacred
The mistletoe has been in use for thousands of years. The first recorded use of this poisonous plant is during the time of the Celtic Druids. According to historians, Celtic tribes considered the mistletoe to be a powerful plant — one that could cure illnesses, predict the future, and stave off nightmares.
This is why during the winter solstice, they collected the mistletoe and kept it in their homes. This is probably the origin of how mistletoe has become a holiday decoration.
The origin of the kissing tradition
The Celtic Druids may have been the first to use the mistletoe as a decorative piece during the holidays, but the tradition of kissing under it did not come from them. The origin of this tradition actually started from the ancient Greeks. They associated the mistletoe with fertility, which is why it became part of their marriage ceremonies.
Some reports say that kissing under the mistletoe could have also started during the 18th century in England, when the English invented the ‘kissing ball’, which was mistletoe and evergreens meshed together and made into a ball.
According to some accounts, couples were told to kiss under the ball in order to enjoy years of blissful marriage. Strangers were also told to kiss under the ball if they wanted to build friendship and share goodwill.
Mistletoe is a parasite
Despite the romantic notion of this plant, botanists say that there is nothing sweet about this plant because of its nature, which is to steal nutrients from other plants. You see, the mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant that attaches itself to other plants. Once it attaches, it takes the host plant’s food and water until the host dies.
Mistletoe travels by bird
Mistletoe gets to travel around because they tend to stick to a bird’s beak and feet. But it is not the plant itself that attaches to the bird; instead, the berries that this plant produces are what get transferred to other plants.
Mistletoe produces white, greenish, or pinkish berries that birds like to eat. When a bird finishes its meal on a mistletoe, the berries attach to the beak and feet. The bird then carries these to another plant. Once the bird lands on another plant, the mistletoe berries will attach to the plant and feed on it.
The mistletoe may have come a long way from being a sacred plant to a romantic decoration for the holidays. But many people still know so little about this mysterious plant except that it’s ‘romantic’ to kiss under it.