Christmas 2022: Why do we kiss under mistletoe tree - legend behind romantic tradition
While it is today associated with romantic tradition, the mistletoe tree actually is a parasite plant that grows not from the ground but on the bark of other trees and often sucks out the nutrients from the host plant. Several legends are associated with the tradition.
- Historians are not sure about the origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe tree
- Thousands of species of this plant grow across the world but a couple of them are harvested especially for the Holiday season
- Christmas and mistletoe became synonymous over a period of time in many traditions
Christmas 2022: Have you seen those numerous Hollywood films and holiday songs where the protagonists kiss under the mistletoe as a symbol of their eternal love? From celebs like the Beckhams and Kardashians kissing under the mistletoe to Harry Potter's first kiss, this particular practice has been a part of the Christmas tradition for quite some time. There have been several versions as to why and how this tradition originated. However, historians have never reached a consensus regarding this. Let's find out what the Norse legend says about the tradition and before that, let's know a little more about the Mistletoe tree.
What is the Mistletoe tree?
There are more than a thousand species of mistletoe worldwide but the European mistletoe (scientific name: viscum album), and the mistletoe from North America (scientific name: Phoradendron serotinum) are the two mistletoe species that are popularly harvested and sold during the Christmas holidays. While it is today associated with romantic tradition, the tree actually is a parasite plant that grows not from the ground but on the bark of other trees and often sucks out the nutrients from the host plant.
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Mistletoe tree and the Norse legend
According to an old Norse legend, the goddess of love Frigga had a son named Balder who was the god of innocence and light. To protect her beloved son, Frigga demanded of all creatures swear an oath that no one should harm her son. She cast a spell so that no tree or plant can harm her son, but she forgot the mistletoe as it is a parasite tree growing out of a tree’s branches. When the scheming Loki - god of evil and destruction - learns of this, he makes a mistletoe arrow and manipulates Balder’s blind brother to shoot him, which eventually kills him. Legend has it that heartbroken Frigga's tears fell on the mistletoe and white berries were formed. She then said that the mistletoe should never be used to harm anyone again, rather anyone standing under the mistletoe would get a kiss. This means even enemies caught other the mistletoe will have to exchange a kiss and maintain peace for the day.
Kissing under the mistletoe: Modern association with romance
While no one is quite sure how it got its romantic interpretation but many folklores hail it as a sign of romance. Women caught under the mistletoe can't refuse a kiss, lores said. Some folklores also say single women should hang mistletoe balls on their doorways to attract suitable suitors. Some also believe that if you hand mistletoe in the doorway, you are allowing happiness and positive energy to flow in.
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