Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on trees, particularly hardwood trees such as oak. The use of mistletoe and the powers contained date back to the Druids who believed that mistletoe could perform miracles, from providing fertility to humans and animals to healing diseases and protecting people from witchcraft. The Druids would cut mistletoe off oak trees in a special ceremony five days after the new moon following the sinter solstice. It was typically hung in a doorway to their house.
The origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is uncertain. However, the tradition may have stemmed from either the Viking association of the plant with Frigga (the goddess of love) or from the ancient belief that mistletoe was related to fertility.
While mistletoe is widely viewed as a symbol of love and fertility, it’s also a representative of peace. Ancient tales tell of enemies who encounter each other underneath trees bearing mistletoe. The enemies lay down their arms, embrace, and agree to a truce until the next day. This act of goodwill is yet another possibility for why we kiss under the mistletoe, abstaining from violence and exchanging greetings under the plant may have prompted the custom of kissing.
One legend states that a couple who kisses underneath mistletoe will have good luck, but a couple neglecting to perform the ritual will have bad luck. Specifically, it is believed that a couple kissing under the mistletoe ensure themselves of marriage and a long, happy life, while an unmarried woman not kissed under the mistletoe will remain single for another year.
Maidens may 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 of a visit from the Tooth Fairy. Instead of exchanging teeth for money, however, the sprig of mistletoe allows women to dream of their Prince Charming.
Whatever your reasons, add to your holiday festivities by hanging a piece of mistletoe under an appropriate place, and be sure you and your guests understand the power of kissing under the mistletoe!