The Mystery Behind the Mistletoe

Gabriella Mastroianni, Co-Chief Editor

There are many traditions and features that come with the Christmas season. Some of these traditions and features include caroling, watching Christmas movies, decorating a tree, hanging stockings, and of course, the infamous mistletoe. Hanging mistletoe in our houses dates back all the way to the ancient Druids (approximately the 3rd century B.C.E). However, the mystery behind the tradition of kissing under this parasitic plant is just as well known as where and when they came from.

Now as I stated earlier, the tradition of hanging it around during Christmas is dated back to the time of the Druids where it was hung in hopes that it would ward off spirits. But, in the Norse culture, kissing under the mistletoe symbolize a sign of love and friendship and remembrance of the mistletoe itself. Although this isn’t the only culture from where the kissing part of all this came from. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe also derives from England, dating back to the 18th century.

In the Norse mythology, Odin’s, the god of wisdom, poetry, war, death, divination, and magic, son Baldur, god of light, joy, purity and the summer sun, was prophesied to be killed. Because of this, Baldur feared going outside, so his mother and wife begged all the plants and animals to not kill him. After hearing this Baldur’s fear was lifted, and while celebrating he was shot in the heart with an arrow, and died. The only thing Baldur’s mother and wife didn’t plead to was the mistletoe. So, in remembrance of the mistletoe, people kiss under it.

While the Norse version is on the darker side, the English version takes on a lighter tone. The custom in England was that for every kiss, a berry was picked from the mistletoe. Once all the berries were plucked, there was no more kissing.

While both customs of the mistletoe don’t entirely continue today, one thing still stands: kissing under the mistletoe is a tradition that will stay for a long time.