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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mistletoe--A Plant For All Seasons

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without mistletoe. In the dark, cold days of a northern winter, the evergreen mistletoe, with its glossy green leaves and white berries, promises spring will return.

But mistletoe has other faces. In ancient Britain, the Druids considered mistletoe a sexual symbol. The white berries' juice resembles semen and the Druids deemed the plant itself an aphrodisiac. By extension, mistletoe became associated with love and marriage.

The tradition of kissing may come from the Nordic legend of the death of the sun god, Balder. Loki, the god of mischief, killed Balder with a sprig of mistletoe. The tears of Balder's mother, Frigga, returned Balder to life. In gratitude, Frigga kissed everyone under the mistletoe, transforming the plant's reputation from death to life. Or new life, as in fertility.

A lesser known aspect of mistletoe labels it the plant of peace. Enemies meeting under the mistletoe laid down their arms and declared a day of truce. This time provided them an opportunity to talk out their differences instead of resorting to violence. In Mistletoe Everywhere (buy link here), my Regency Christmas comedy, I use mistletoe's role as the plant of peace to bring my two estranged lovers back together.

Promise of spring, fertility symbol and plant of peace--truly a plant for all seasons. Which face of mistletoe do you prefer?

Thank you all,


Joanna Waugh said...

So that's where the custom of kissing under the mistletoe originated! Great post, Linda.

catslady said...

I think I like the idea that it's all 3 things although I didn't know all of them before. Note to self - find some misteltoe lol.

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, Joanna. I had known the legend about mistletoe killing Balder, but I didn't know its connection to the Christmas kissing custom.

catslady, I had never known all this about mistletoe, either. You learn something new all the time.

Grace Elliot said...

Loving your blog - will be popping back again, so interesting.