There are several strange and curious Christmas customs, many of which evolved through ancient pagan rituals. However, the most interesting one is the 'Kissing under the Mistletoe'. In the Victorian epoch, Kissing under the Mistletoe was considered as an unofficial declaration of the soon-to-be-announced engagement. It was considered unlucky and unfortunate not to be kissed, that meant, you probably were going to miss the bus to the best institution of the human condition... Marriage. Let me add, its shelf life is just a year or so, and not for a lifetime.(Basked in a sigh of relief?... Good!)
It's Our Custom and We Follow It!
Kissing under the mistletoe was a christmas tradition that made men go weak in their knees and damsels blush pink! It was one time in the annual calendar, when families were ready to footloose the soon-to-be-wedded couple. It is indeed an occasion when your display of affection and romantic proposals won't be thwarted. The custom goes on to explicating how a mistletoe is hung up and the opportunity the guy grabs to kiss his lady-love under its shadow. Every kissing shot demanded that he plucks off one of the several berries. After the berries have managed a disappearing act, the men, no more have a passport to kiss (All good things come to an end, you see!). Nevertheless, customs and traditions evolve. These days, while the berries still inspire men to commence with the act, they no longer have the power to cease those romantic endeavors! Bottom-line - You may well continue with the honors, the berries would no longer prison your kisses!
Another custom in line would involve snitching Mistletoe twigs from your local Church Christmas decorations. The belief propagates putting the twigs under your pillow at night, dreaming about that chap you had such a crush on, and then in the morning tossing the twig into the fire. If it burned smoothly, you could count on marital bliss. If it crackled, there you are... a marital 'blitz' is in store for you!
This is How Our Tradition Evolved... with Legends!
The tradition of kissing under the Mistletoe evolved from the Celtic and the Nordic people who believed that the evergreen Mistletoe had magical, medicinal, and aphrodisiac properties. Mistletoe was also considered as a symbol of Peace by the quarrelsome Norsemen and, if by chance they happened to encounter the Mistletoe growing nearby, depending on their mood, they either kissed and made up or they put away their weapons and rested to fight another day.
Contrarily, the Mistletoe plays a villainous role in the Myth of Baldur. When Baldur, the Norse God, was born, his mother Frigga made all the plants, animals, and inanimate things on earth promise her that they would never harm him. She, however, forgot the Mistletoe and this oversight was used by the mischief-maker Loki to evil advantage. He made an arrow from a Mistletoe twig and tricked Baldur's blind brother into shooting it at Baldur. Baldur died and winter descended on the planet and it was only after he was restored to life by the Gods that things returned to normalcy. Frigga, a surprisingly condoning Goddess, decided no one should suffer again through the Mistletoe and so made it sacred and a symbol of happiness.
Mistletoe - Then and Now!
Ironically, the Mistletoe which conjures up such romantic Christmas imagery can hardly be considered romantic on its own merits. There are two specific reasons why I utter this statement.
First of all, it is a parasite and, honestly, whoever considered a parasite romantic? Except, ahem, another parasite (it's the holidays, people, and some of us are infected by the 'there's someone for everyone' holiday cheer). Seriously though, the Mistletoe can only grow on the barks of other trees and get its nourishment from them and often at their expense. In Europe, it's found commonly on Apple Trees and somewhat less commonly on Oak Trees. Its rare occurrence made the Oak Mistletoe even more valuable to the Ancient Celtic Druids, who cut it with a golden sickle and made it an integral part of their various rituals. In accordance with the staunch Druid customs, Christmas has survived with superstitions hard to come by, however easy to follow. One such custom is to burn the mistletoe on the twelfth night to ward off the doom from those who have kissed under it. Failing to do so, may lead to the girls and boys never getting married. The premonition further enunciates manipulating fate, thereby ceasing the wings of happiness and joy to flutter around you.
Secondly, the seeds of the European Mistletoe can only become capable of germinating after having passed through the digestive tracts of birds - particularly the Mistle Thrush, and, it was by noticing how the Mistletoe always seemed to spring forth from the shit of this bird, that the sharp-eyed Ancients came to give the Mistletoe its name. 'Mistle', which sounds so lovely and misty, actually means 'shit' in old Anglo-Saxon, and 'toe', which emerged from 'tan', means twig. As they did not know the scientific workings of such seed propagation, they deemed it a miracle and regarded the Mistletoe with awe. Besides, the mistletoe was suspended from the ceiling to flush out spirits that mean harm to your dwelling, thereby, in the process, discouraging witches to inhabit your domain.
Well, we should marvel at it ourselves. Armed as we are with all the scientific data and analytical skills in this very modern age, we still go forth enthusiastically to kiss under the 'Shit Twig of the Mistle Thrush that grew up to become a Parasite'. I wonder if anyone out there would be interested in adding a Conditions Apply 'I would do anything for love (but I won't do That)' to their Christmas repertoire!