There are many old stories involving mistletoes. Vikings believed that mistletoe could bring the dead back to life. One of their Gods. Balder had a dream he was going to die and his mother was frantic because he was god of the summer sun and if he dies the earth would die. She went to all the elements, animals and plants to ask them not to kill him. Because his mother did this, he was teased and has things thrown at him. However, Balder’s enemy Loki found that mistletoe did not have to obey Balder’s mothers request because it has no roots of its own and therefore did not count as a plant. He therefore made a poison dart with the berry and tricked Balder’s blind brother in to shooting him with it.

For three days the elements tried to bring him back to life, eventually Balder’s mothers tears changed the mistletoes berries from red to white and this raised him from the dead. People now kiss under the mistletoe to thank it for helping. Druids in Britain believed that mistletoe could perform miracles.

There were many different things they felt it could do such as making humans and animals fertile, healing disease and providing protection form witchcraft. They even had a special ceremony where they would cut the mistletoe down five days after the new moon appears following the winter solstice. They caught it in a white cloth so the ground did not contaminate it and then sacrificed two white bulls, said prayers and the priests would give out sprigs of mistletoe to the people to keep them safe from storms and evil spirits.

Kissing Under Berries

Mistletoe has been considered to symbolise sexuality because of the colour and consistency of the berry juice. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac because it grows from the soul of the oak tree. This link to sexuality and the fact that it was felt to aid fertility may be why there is a tradition for kissing under it. It may also be from the Viking story of Balder and how his mother used mistletoe to raise him from the dead and people kissed under it to thank it. There is also a Roman festival where mistletoe was used as part of the celebrations.

If a man kisses a woman under mistletoe he should remove a berry and then when all of the berries are gone then no one can kiss under it any more. This is not done so much these days, probably because the plant is poisonous and removing berries may not be safe. There are many legends about kissing under mistletoe. Some say that couple who do it will be lucky and ones that do not will not be. Some say that unmarried women who do not get kissed will remain unmarried for another year.

Couples will get married and have a long happy life if they kiss under mistletoe. It was also believed that by placing a sprig of mistletoe under her pillow, an unmarried woman would dream about her prince charming. Burning mistletoe will also show whether a woman will have a good marriage – steady burning is good but fickle burning indicates she has chosen an unsuitable partner. There are ancient tales which tell of enemies making up under trees bearing mistletoe. They may drop their weapons and embrace agreeing to a truce until the next day. This could have led to the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

Post comment