K. D. Dowdall

Pen and Paper

cousin-reginald-under-the-mistletoe-norman-rockwell-400x508  Why do we kiss each other under bunches of the devious, toxic Mistletoe every Christmas?  Well, its a complicated story. Many mythical stories surround the Mistletoe. Its magical lore includes how the Norse god Baldur — second son of Odin, god of truth and light — who was so beloved by the other gods that they sought to protect him from all the dangers of the world, but forgot to include the mystical Mistletoe.  Loki, a jealous Druid citizen who sought to test the powers of Baldur, made a dart from the Mistletoe and murdered Baldur.  However, Baldur came back to life and Frigg, Baldur’s mother, kissed the Mistletoe for saving her son’s life and from that time forward a Mistletoe was hung at the threshold of each home to ward off evil spirits and for good luck. Overtime, people started kissing each other at the entrance to a room for good luck and to be gracious to the host.

The lore of the Mistletoe is thousands of years old. It was sacred to the Celts and Druids of Northern Europe and other countries around the world where Mistletoe thrives and is believed to be a magical everlasting healer. The Mistletoe has been called a symbol of virility, could cure all manner of diseases, warded off death in battle, induced omens of good or bad fortune, and used as a divining rod pointed the way to riches of gold and silver. It is said to have given life everlasting to the Druid Gods and souls within the White Oaks tree. Mistletoe, a thief among plants, chooses the Oak tree above all others as it’s natural parasitic home.

The Mistletoe’s magical lore began with the awe of nomadic tribal peoples that surrounded this parasitic plant that grew without roots, as though it had fallen from the sky as a divine gift from the Gods. The Mistletoe was likened to the soul, a disembodied spirit that had great power. It was considered the great healer and protected against witchcraft, nightmares; it evoked ghosts and caused them to answer your questions.

Then there’s the flower’s semi-parasitic nature. Mistletoe, a poisonous relative of sandalwood, attaches itself onto trees to steal its host’s water and nutrients. Unlike sandalwood, however, mistletoe seeds are dispersed by berry-eating birds, which allows the plant to grow on branches high above the shade, freeloading on other trees’ sunlight. Mistletoe should never be placed where children can reach it and accidentally be poisoned by eating the berries.

All of that said, there is still something magical and exciting about standing underneath the Mistletoe waiting for a kiss to be bestowed.  🙂

References

Durant, Mary, A Roving Dictionary of North American Wild Flowers, Congdon & Weed, Inc. New York, New York, 1976

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Rodale’s Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1987

Moura, Ann, Grimoire for the Green Witch, Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd., Woodbury, Minnesota, 2016

Cunningham, Scott, Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical herbs, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, Minnesota, 1984

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Under the Mistletoe!

  1. Jennie says:

    Very interesting!

    Like

    1. Hi Jennie, I just wanted to do something different. It is not the kind of thing I usually write, but yes, it is interesting. It makes me wonder how many other things we do, celebrate, or even honor that have unusual histories. I have a feeling there are many. Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a great New year ahead. Karen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jennie says:

        Thank you, Karen. Loved the post. Have a very merry Christmas!

        Like

  2. frenchc1955 says:

    Thank you for another excellent post!

    Like

  3. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    This post is a wonderful discussion of the history and mythology of mistletoe and perfect for the season!

    Like

  4. SandySays1 says:

    Wonderful post KD! Life is improved when we know why we function as we do.

    Like

    1. Thank you so kindly. I am humbled you for praise. And I agree with your premise wholeheartedly! 🙂

      Like

  5. Karen, I no sooner heard someone humorously talking aloud about “why do we kiss under a poisonous plant?” than I read this post. It is so interesting how some of our most beloved traditions have quite the unusual, unexpected and even unsavory origins. Enjoyed this “peek behind the parasite!”

    Like

    1. Hello there Sportsattitudes, yes, it is amazing how the origins to some of our favorite traditions are rather strange. Even Christmas trees are pagan in origin. I am glad you enjoyed it and I enjoyed writing it and it was fascinating what I found! Have a wonderful Christmas and a great New Year ahead! Karen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. All the very best to you and yours this Holiday Season Karen! Bruce 🙂

        Like

  6. I have wondered about the origin of the Mistletoe holiday connection. Never bothered to look it up though. Now I know. Learned something new today so it’s a good day. Thank you. Came by way of Dr. French.

    Like

    1. Hi there and I hope you had a lovely Christmas! Dr. French is amazing and brilliant. I too, learned something new because I had no clue. Isn’t this just what makes being apart of WordPress wonderful! Karen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like to learn something new everyday. 🙂 Had a lovely Christmas and hope yours was as well. Lets hope the New Year brings us more time for writing and connecting. Marlene 🙂

        Like

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