Underneath the mistletoe. . ., Oh you and me here underneath the mistletoe. . ., Sia pours her heart out while a little girl with an angelic voice sings a joyful rhyme as the Christmas bells chime... 'Am standing under the mistletoe!
As snowflakes begin to fall and snowfall covers the earth in December, green and pearly white mistletoe adorn houses, churches and shops. As Christmas nears, thousands and thousands wait to kiss their crush under the magical mistletoe. While some may cringe at the thought of strangers taking them by surprise with a kiss under it, some may care less for the traditions. But million hearts across the world did bloom underneath it and the stories of love and romance that sparked off by the kisses under the pretty mistletoes are many. Stories are written and songs sung by both small and big. But what’s the real story behind the mystical power of mistletoe that can stir love in million hearts?
It's the most beautiful time of the year. . . I should be playin' in the winter snow. But I'ma be under the mistletoe. . ., sings Justin Bieber.
And there you have Mistletoe and Wine from good old, never fading Cliff Richard.
Christmas time, Mistletoe and wine, Children singing Christian rhyme. With logs on the fire and gifts on the tree, A time to rejoice in the good that we see. . .
The fire burned brighter as country music great Alabama lit up snowy days and frosty nights with ‘Hangin’ ‘Round the Mistletoe. . . waiting for you dear. Christmas is a special time to give and to receive - For every little kiss you give me I will give you three. . .
And more. But what is a mistletoe? Mistletoe is a green parasitic plant which grows on a wide range of host trees such as apple, oak, and other broad-leaf trees and bears white glutinous berries in winter, especially during the month of December, that is Christmas time. It is said that there are over 1,000 species of it.
Well, what has mistletoe to do with Christmas? Why are mistletoes hung on Christmas? Why do people kiss under a mistletoe at Christmas? You have heard it all. May be not. So, here’s the fascinating story about mistletoe, the ancient traditions and the many strong beliefs associated with it.
The fact that it bears pretty white berries during Christmas season, mistletoe is commonly used for Christmas decoration. Some believe that mistletoe can drive the devil away. According to the ancient Druids tradition, mistletoe possess mystical powers and hanging of them in the house wards off evil spirits and brings good luck to the household. So the green sprigs with white berries and red hollies are hung all around the house with red ribbons during Christmas celebrations.
In Greece, some ancient folk likened the white berries to semen and linked it with fertility. They believe in its mystical power for fertility. Hence, couples kiss under the mistletoe during the Saturnalia festival and during marriage ceremonies for fertility.
While some believe the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began in ancient Greece, some say it began in England as the parasitic plant is native to the British Isles.
In Celts and Norse mythology, mistletoe symbolises love, romance and friendship, the reason people kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas, the celebration of love, to profess their feelings for the one they love.
The poison story
However, according to science, mistletoe may not be all that romantic. It is said to be a tree killing parasite and the berries are said to be poisonous.
Remember the story of goddess Frigga and the tears she shed when her son Balder was killed by an evil spirit with an arrow made of mistletoe? Her tears turned to white berries, coating the poisonous tip of the plant. Thrilled by the white berries, Frigga promised to bless anyone who passes underneath a mistletoe with a kiss. Hence, the tradition of kissing, according to a Nordic tale.
Another fascinating belief, according to the French tradition, mistletoe berries are bitter and poisonous because the wood on which it grew was used to make the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.
And... Peace to all
In the Roman history, mistletoe signifies peace. Enemies at war would pardon each other, reconcile and embrace each other under the mistletoe to signal peace and friendship.
Every year, come Christmas season, pictures of them are used in Christmas cards and greetings. And the market is flooded with crafted mistletoe. Houses across the world are beautifully decorated with it. But will the kisses under the artificial mistletoe work? That could be another story to tell.
For now, pretty mistletoe in the snow, which sprigs stay evergreen even when the leaves have fallen out in the frozen weather, herald thousands new stories of love. Christmas is here. So is love and peace.