Sunday, December 16, 2012

Another Christmas Memory

Yesterday, as we took our daily walk around the neighborhood, I noticed all the mistletoe up in the trees.  Now that the leaves are almost all off for the winter, it is much more obvious.  Seeing all of it took me back  a few years to right after we moved to Texas and I was made aware that mistletoe grew wild.
Mistletoe Growing Wild in Texas

Growing up in Illinois where mistletoe does not grow...cannot survive the winter was a plant we used for decorative purposes at Christmas.  If we couldn't find it "live", sold in flower shops, we would use plastic "look-a-likes" to decorate.  Little did we know that it was a tree-killing parasite!!!
Decorative Mistletoe

 My mom, again in her decorating frenzy, would always have mistletoe hung somewhere in the house!  And, of course, as we grew up, we learned the tradition of a kiss under the mistletoe!  Much giggling would take place in adolescent years as adults would partake in the activity!!

I found the following information about the tradition:

Why do we get kissed if we stand under the mistletoe?

Since ancient times, the mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred plants of European folklore.
The ancient Druids considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous powers which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. It was also believed that the mistletoe was an aphrodisiac or a sexual symbol.

From these strange beliefs has come the modern-day custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

The tradition of smooching under the mistletoe descends from the customs of several different cultures. For instance, exchanging kisses under the mistletoe was a tradition of Greek festivals and marital ceremonies. 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.

The Anglo-Saxons associated the powers of the mistletoe to the legend of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to the legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Guys would pluck a berry when they smooched the girls and when the last berry was gone, there would be no more kissing!

In France, the custom linked to the mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day: "Au gui l'An neuf"--Mistletoe for the New Year.


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