We’ve seen it in enough holiday rom-coms, from parties to family gatherings, the mistletoe is a very well-known Christmas item and tradition. While it stems from Norse mythology and Greek and Roman medicine, how did it end up being everyone’s most loved or most despised Christmas decoration? The mistletoe’s ties to both love and fertility from mythology is what encorporated the plant in Christmas traditions, as Reader’s Digest details:
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Since this healing plant blossoms even in the cold winter, Celtic Druids thought it restored fertility, too. On the mythology side, legend says the gods used mistletoe to resurrect Odin’s son Baldur from the dead. And Baldur’s mother, the goddess of love, vowed to kiss whoever passed the plant, a symbol of love.
Ties with fertility and love stuck with the plant through the 18th century and were easily incorporated into Christmas celebrations. It reportedly started with lower-class servants in England before moving up to the middle classes, according to TODAY.
Versions of the tradition have changed throughout the years, too. One version says couples who kiss should also take a berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, and another says that refusing a kiss under the mistletoe is bad luck.
image credit: via Reader’s Digest