THEME THURSDAY: HISTORY
THE HISTORY OF MISTLETOE
Given that the celebratory Christmas season is upon us, it seemed fitting to explore the history of a time honored tradition, as well as an interesting decoration, to mark Theme Thursday this week. So, I chose to delve into the peculiar history of mistletoe.
Mistletoe’s historical origins in America can be traced back to the 17Th century, but its genesis and tales of discovery and mystical stories of tragedy and redemption have much more ancient beginnings.
One of the earliest associations with mistletoe can be found in Norse history through mythology. The lore begins with Frigga, Goddess of beauty and love. When her son, Baldur was born, she sought out all the species in the plant kingdom, save one, mistletoe, to insure that her son would never be harmed. Due to her neglect, the god of evil, Loki, found Baldur and killed him with a mistletoe-laced spear. In Fridda’s despair, she wept tears of tiny white berries comparable to the ones found on mistletoe. When Baldur was eventually brought back to life, Fridda made a vow that she would kiss anyone who walked under the mistletoe.
( Druids Cutting Mistletoe)
The second association is found in the history of the ancient Druids. When the warring clans would come in contact with mistletoe, they would cease to do battle and call a truce, if only momentarily. Some historians suggest that this act of peace, instead of the Norse account, may have actually been the precursor to traditional associations with kissing when standing underneath the balls of berry -laden greenery.
Though some cultures have made the association of mistletoe with marriage, when a man kisses a woman while standing underneath, most merely see a person there as stumbling upon the chance encounter for a kiss and an embrace.
On a much less romantic note, mistletoe’s botanical history reveals that not only is the plant poisoness, but it is in fact viewed as a “partial parasitic plant”. It can actually survive on its own, through photosynthesis, and will attach its roots into trees, robbing them of nutrients.
I don’t know about you, but I certainly prefer the romantic Norse or Druid ‘Histories’ to the Botanical one…