Where Did Mistletoe Come From?

Ever wonder abut where the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe came from? According to “Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things” by Charles Panati, the custom originated around the second century B.C. in ancient Britain. The Druids celebrated the beginning of winter by burning mistletoe as a sacrifice to their gods.

Mistletoe was also considered a good luck charm and hung in doorways. As a parasite on evergreen trees, if enemies met under such trees, they were obliged to lay down their weapons and forget their differences for a day. It was also used for female infertility and an antidote for poison.

The kissing custom came from Scandinavia, where it belonged to Friggs, goddess of love. Upon the recognition of the official date of December 25, the Church banned the used of mistletoe and substituted holly, the sharp pointed leaves symbolizing Christ’s crown of thorns. The ban lasted throughout the Middle Ages.

The poinsettia originated in Mexico, where it was considered the ‘flower of the blessed night’ because of its resemblence to the Star of Bethlehem. In 1828, Dr. Joel Poinsett brought the plant into the United States, where it was named after him. I have a poinsettia growing outside my bedroom window, where I can see its red leaves.

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