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What is a Mistletoe?

Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant, and lives by attaching itself to other trees - usually the apple or oak tree. In earlier times this plant was thought to possess great powers. It was hung on the doorway of the house to ward off bad luck and protect its inhabitants from ghosts! People also believed that this humble plant had miraculous healing powers and
could even cure fatal diseases. 

The Legend

How did the tradition of kissing under mistletoe on Christmas begin? According to legend, Frigga was the beautiful goddess of love, and mistletoe was her sacred plant. Frigga had a son, Balder, who was the god of the summer sun. One night, Balder had a terrible nightmare. He dreamt that he was going to die. This frightened Frigga, and she called on all the elements to protect her son. She made them promise that they would not harm her son, for, without her son, all life would perish. While Frigga extracted a promise that nothing on earth would harm her son, she forgot all about the mistletoe, which does not grow on air, fire, water or earth. It grows on another plant, and has no roots. Loki, the enemy of Balder and the god of evil, made a poisonous arrow from the mistletoe plant, and gave it to the god of winter, Hoder, who was blind. Hoder shot it and Loki directed the arrow in the direction of Balder, who was killed. 

After Balder's death all the elements wept for him, and tried to bring him back to life. The sun sank and there was darkness on earth for three days and three nights. Frigga wept tears of grief over her son's dead body. These tears formed into the white berries found on the mistletoe plant, and they brought Balder back to life. Frigga was so overwhelmed with joy, that she kissed everyone who stood under the tree on which her mistletoe grew.  Thus began the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe plant. It is believed that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would be safe from all harm. A kiss, a token of love, would be bestowed on them. 

Kissing under the Mistletoe

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, as we know it, originated in England. It was first introduced in English society at Christmas balls. If a woman was standing under mistletoe, she could not turn down a kiss. When this tradition started getting out of hand, it was decided that every time a man kissed a woman under a mistletoe branch, he was to remove a berry. When all berries were removed, the mistletoe was discarded for the evening! Now, of course, traditions have relaxed, but kissing under the mistletoe still remains as one of the better parts of a Christmas party. So get ready to pucker up this season. It's time to steal a kiss - or two!

Find out what Christmas is all about - Click here

To discover five new ways of celebrating Christmas - Click here

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