Mistletoe: Mischief or Mayhem?
How did a semi-parasitic plant that lives in the treetops become a playful symbol of romance?
According to the History Channel, "many ancient cultures prized mistletoe for its healing properties. The Greeks were known to use it as a cure for everything."
In ancient Norse mythology, Frigg, the goddes of love, declared mistletoe a symbol of love and vowed to plant a kiss on all those who passed beneath it.
By the 18th century, stealing a kiss beneath the mistletoe became a common practice among British servants and the tradition spread from there. According to the tradition, it’s bad luck to refuse a kiss beneath the mistletoe. After the kiss, the couple is to pluck one of the berries from the plant. Once all the berries are gone, the bough no longer has the power to command kisses. So if you hang a bough of mistletoe this year, make sure it has plenty of berries on it.
When I lived in Tennessee, I would spot mistletoe in the the tops of the deciduous trees as I drove into town, because it was the only green thing around. I heard that the traditional way to harvest mistletoe was to shoot it out of the trees.