Look out Valentine’s Day! The holidays – and all of the enchanting props that come with the season – are one of the most romantic times of the year. While tinsel and twinkling lights have their charm, the time-tested romantic favorite has always been mistletoe.
From mythical legends to Justin Bieber’s current chart-topper, mistletoe has traveled through decades and cultures to become, well, the coziest holiday tradition. So if you’ve ever wondered who first puckered up under sprigs of green holly, read on.
The Middle Ages
Mistletoe was one of the most sacred plants to Celtic Druids in Roman times. According to European folklore, it was believed to bestow life and fertility, protect from poison and arouse the deepest desires. Druid priests cut the mistletoe from oak trees only using golden sickles, while the Greeks hung branches from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. And in Scandinavia, the mistletoe was a plant of peace under which enemies could declare truce.
The Tale of Baldur
We can’t forget about the Norse myths – most notably, the tale of Baldur. Baldur’s mother, the goddess Frigga, designated every plant, animal and object to protect Baldur from harm. Overlooking the mistletoe, the mischievous god Loki tricked another god to kill Baldur with a spear created from the very same plant. Some believed Frigga’s tears became the white berries of the plant.
In pain, Frigga cursed the world with frigid winters until she brought Baldur back to life. From then on, she labeled the mistletoe sacred, ordering it to bring love into the world. Ever since, anyone who passed the plant would celebrate Baldur’s life by kissing beneath it. Fascinating stuff, huh?
In 18th century England, it was said that a woman standing underneath the mistletoe could not refuse a kiss. And if a girl remained without a smooch, she couldn’t expect to marry the following year.
Today, mistletoe hangs above doorways as a symbol of friendship, peace and a little bit of love. Get your kisses this Christmas with our fave mistletoe picks, below!