"The mistletoe is hung up near a doorway or in the kitchen and young men have the privilege of kissing girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases."
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is one of my favorites and I believe a lot of kissing under the mistletoe has been going on for ages. In today's tradition the part about plucking the berries (which, incidentally, are poisonous), and then all kissing under the mistletoe ends when the berries run out!
As a little girl, my mother told me how a young lady standing under a ball of mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments, cannot refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or lasting friendship and goodwill. If the girl remained unkissed, she cannot expect not to marry the following year.
I found references of "kissing under the mistletoe" in Celtic rituals and Norse mythology. In Gaul, the land of the Celts, for instance, the Druids considered it a sacred plant. It was believed to have medicinal qualities and mysterious supernatural powers. (Hmm... I wonder what kind of "power" I would have if I wear a piece of mistletoe on my coat. After all... I am Scandinavian.)
The Norse myth of Baldur. Baldur's death and resurrection is one of the most fascinating Norse myths and stands at the beginning of the history of mistletoe as a "kissing" plant.
Baldur's mother was the Norse goddess, Frigga. When Baldur was born, Frigga made each and every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to harm Baldur. But Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant -- and the mischievous god of the Norse myths, Loki, took advantage of this oversight.
Ever the prankster, Loki tricked one of the other gods into killing Baldur with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. The demise of Baldur, a vegetation deity in the Norse myths, brought winter into the world, although the gods did eventually restore Baldur to life.
|After which Frigga pronounced the mistletoe sacred,|
ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world.
Happily complying with Frigga's wishes, any two people passing under the plant from now on would celebrate Baldur's resurrection by kissing under the mistletoe.
I have my mistletoe hanging.