Kissing under the mistletoe has to be my favorite holiday tradition. Any excuse to get some lovin' from my hunny, I'll take it, but as I sat today looking over at the adorable felt mistletoe we have in the shop right now I got to thinking...What exactly is mistletoe and how the the tradition start anyway?
It turns out that mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant that attaches and penetrates a healthy tree, tapping into it's nutrient supply and living off of it's host.
Not only that but the first mistletoe which was native to Great Britain was actually a poisonous plant causing some pretty gnarly symptoms when it comes into human contact.
At first mistletoe might be considered a pest that kills trees, but it does have some positive traits. Mistletoe is a favorite food of many birds and the spotted owl prefers it's dense clusters for nesting. The Navajo nicknamed Mistletoe "basket on high" because of it's importance to their sacred owls.
European Mistletoe is featured prominently in Greek mythology and in later texts mistletoe was mentioned as an important component when making an oath of protection. The Celts considered mistletoe a remedy for barrenness in livestock.
When Christianity spread throughout Europe, the mistletoe plant was integrated as a part of the new religion. In some way or another the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began and it's origins are not exactly clear, however we do know it's popularity began in the 16th century.
Although mistletoe is considered a Christmas decoration, many families leave it hanging in the home through out the year believing that it protects the house from lightening or fire.
The type of mistletoe that is used during holiday celebrations is the same type that was believed to be sacred by ancient druids.
As the tradition goes, any man and woman caught under the mistletoe at the same time are obliged to kiss.
Now that's a ancient tradition I can get behind!