Kissing Under the Mistletoe

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Merry Christmas readers, friends, fans and critics!Merry Christmas to all!

If you are in love with someone, and you’re spending Christmas together, what’s the most romantic gift you can give them? Yes, it’s a kiss under the mistletoe.

Ne’er heard of that one? Read on to find out about this special Christmas gift for your special someone.

Background

For the unfamiliar – mistletoe is a beautiful parasitic plant with long and narrow leaves and tiny white pearl-like berries, which is used in Christmas decorations around the world.

Kissing under the mistletoePhoto by magda.indigo

It’s customary for couples to kiss under the mistletoe as this is thought to bring good luck. It is said that couples who kiss under the mistletoe will get married and be blessed with a long and happy life together, whereas girls who are not kissed under the mistletoe will remain unmarried until the next year (i.e. next Christmas).

It is also customary to burn the mistletoe plant as a means of foretelling marital success. A steady flame indicates marital bliss, whereas a flickering one is thought of as a sign of a not-so-perfect marriage.

References

Exactly how long this tradition dates back to is largely unknown, but some traces can be found in 19th century literature. In his collection of essays and short stories, The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon (1820), American author Washington Irving recollects –

The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.

Origin

The origin of this tradition is quite obscure. According to some, the custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated from the ancient “Norse” or Scandinavian mythology – a Pagan school of mythology which continued into north-European folklore post-Christianization. According to the myth, Baldr was the son of goddess Frigg, who, at the time of Baldr’s birth, cast a spell to protect him from all plants, except mistletoe, which she overlooked. Later Baldr was killed by a god with a spear made of the mistletoe plant. Baldr was later resurrected, and Frigg declared mistletoe to be the symbol of peace and love henceforth. It then became customary for people to kiss under the mistletoe as a means to show respect to Frigg and also to remember Baldr’s resurrection.

Kissing under the mistletoePhoto by Anthony White

Another theory is that the ritual of kissing under the mistletoe has its roots the ancient Babylonian-Assyrian Empire. The mistletoe used to be hung outside the temple of the goddess of beauty and love. While standing under the mistletoe, young single women would accept the first man who approached them. However no mention of kissing can be found. Folklore has it, that mistletoe has supernatural healing powers. It’s a symbol of fertility with aphrodisiac qualities. Historically, mistletoe was also a part of wedding ceremonies and used to be placed under the newlyweds’ bed. Later the tradition evolved into kissing under the mistletoe and men plucking a berry every time they kissed, as “mistletoe etiquette”. Continuing to kiss once all the berries were plucked was believed to bring bad luck. (Kissing was obviously quite a big deal back then and was looked upon as a promise of marriage!)

So now that you know all about the mysterious mistletoe – find one, grab your maiden and get kissing!

Merry Christmas once again! ;)

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