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They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis.

How the plant came to be associated with Christmas kissing.

Various types of mistletoe grow all over world, so it is difficult to generalize about the plant. The flowers of tropical mistletoes can be much larger and more colorful than the small yellow flowers later yielding whitish-yellow berries that Westerners associate with the plant. The U.


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The latter is not something that you would want growing on your landscape, since it harms the trees that it uses as hosts. Even the hemiparasitical mistletoes are far from beneficial to their hosts. Actress Suzanne Somers increased public awareness of the research taking place on mistletoe as a possible cure for breast cancer.

The word originated from the perception in pre-scientific Europe that mistletoe plants burst forth, as if by magic, from the excrement of the "mistel" or "missel" thrush. According to Sara Williams at the University of Saskatchewan Extension, "mistel" is the Anglo-Saxon word for dung, while "tan" is the word for twig—so the name mistletoe literally means "dung-on-a-twig. While belief in spontaneous generation has long been discredited, the word origin of "mistletoe" is not as fanciful as one might at first think. In fact, the plant is spread by seeds as they pass through birds' digestive tracts.

Here’s Why People Kiss Under the Mistletoe at Christmastime

Folks had known for some time that the berry of mistletoe plants is a favorite treat of the mistel thrush. So, while their reasoning was somewhat askew, the old-timers were justified, after all, in naming mistletoe plants after the bird most responsible for spreading it around. As might be expected from a plant that has held people's fascination for so long, mistletoe plant has also carved out a niche of fame for itself in literary annals. The golden bough was to be found on a special tree in the grove sacred to Diana, at Nemi, a tree containing a mistletoe plant.

The prophetess, Sibyl instructed Aeneas to pluck this magic bough before attempting his descent into the underworld.


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Sibyl knew that, with the aid of such magic, Aeneas would be able to undertake the perilous venture with confidence. Two doves guided Aeneas to the grove and landed on the tree:. The title of Sir James G. Botany and folklore most likely must be mingled to arrive at the full explanation. And a fitting arrival it would be, after all, for a plant whose home is halfway between the heavens and the earth. Here were kept up the old games of hoodman blind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule-clog and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.

How the Tradition of Kissing Under Mistletoe Started

Here we must mention the reverence felt for this plant by the Gauls. Now, along with the holly, laurel, rosemary, yews, boxwoods and, of course, the Christmas tree, mistletoe is one of the evergreens displayed during the Christmas holiday season. The Oklahoma Territorial Legislature adopted mistletoe — Phoradendron serotinum — as its official floral emblem Feb. The green of its foliage and the white of its berries are the official colors of Oklahoma today. But mistletoe has a long and storied history that stretches back thousands of years.


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From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred plants of European folklore. It was thought that mistletoe plants were brought to earth when lightning strikes a tree in a blaze of gold. Greeks thought mistletoe had mystical powers.

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In the Middle Ages and later, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off thunder, lightning and evil spirits. In Europe they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches. It was believed that the oak mistletoe could extinguish fire. Mistletoe was considered to bestow life and fertility and protect against poison. Mistletoe represented peace and joy. Ancient Norse tales tell of enemies who encountered each other underneath trees bearing mistletoe laying down their arms, embracing and agreeing to a truce until the next day.

There are numerous myths about the origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. Kissing under the mistletoe is first found associated with the festival of Saturnalia, a popular mid-December celebration in ancient Rome. Druids, who viewed the mistletoe as magical, hung it above their doors for luck.

Vikings dating back to the eighth century believed that mistletoe had the power to raise humans from the dead. Mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, goddess of love and the mother of Balder, the god of the summer sun.

Why Do People Kiss Under Mistletoe? | Wonderopolis

IT'S the moment everyone dreads at the Christmas party It's tradition! Mistletoe is a Christmas staple, but what is it and why do people kiss underneath it? We have the history behind the festive custom Mistletoe's mystical properties stem back to the Celts and Norse people who believed there was something mystical about the plant as the sprigs stayed green in winter even when the tree has lost its leaves.

Frigga was so distraught that her tears turned to white berries, coating the plant and symbolising her love for him.