How did the tradition of kissing under mistletoe begin?
Mistletoe is one of the many Christmas holiday traditions that, frankly, most people do not understand but play along with anyway. But mistletoe’s magical hold over holiday lovers goes back way before the first office Christmas party.
The Celtic Druids are among the first people known to ascribe a tradition to mistletoe, using it in ceremonies at least a few thousand years ago, but they didn’t kiss under it. They believed mistletoe, especially a rare species that grew on oak trees, to have sacred powers — including the ability to heal illnesses, protect against nightmares, and even predict the future.
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe started in ancient Greece, during the festival of Saturnalia and later in marriage ceremonies, because of the plant’s association with fertility. During the Roman era, enemies at war would reconcile their differences under the mistletoe, which to them represented peace. Romans also decorated their houses and temples with mistletoe in midwinter to please their gods.
There is also a Nordic myth concerning mistletoe, and it goes like this: The plant was sacred to Frigga, the goddess of love, but Loki, commonly known as the god of mischief, shot Frigga’s son with a spear — or, in some tellings, an arrow — carved from mistletoe. Frigga revived her son under the mistletoe tree and decreed that anyone who stands under the mistletoe tree deserves not only protection from death, but also a kiss.
Today, the tradition of smooching under the mistletoe continues. If a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.I am grateful for the ability we have to show affection through kissing which can express sentiments of love, passion, respect, greeting, friendship, and good luck, among many others.
So pucker up!