Hanging mistletoe over a door during the Christmas holidays is a typical American tradition that you will surely have seen in many movies and cartoon series. But have you ever stopped to think about what story is behind this sweet and curious tradition? Where he came from? Why do people kiss when under mistletoe ?

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What is mistletoe? What characteristics does it have?

  • Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on trees , especially hardwood trees like oak and apple trees. A parasite is a plant or animal that needs another plant or animal to survive. As mistletoe grows into a tree, it sends its roots directly to the bark of the tree and takes nutrients from it.
  • The mistletoe plant takes no more and no less than five years to flower.
  • The mistletoe produces its own food through photosynthesis, and is capable of living alone, although it is mainly found in trees.
  • Mistletoe is easy to spot in winter because its leaves remain green throughout the year.
  • Mistletoe has pointed leaves, with berries that are red or white. The seeds are sticky due to the juice inside the berry. The flowers of the plant can be of a wide variety of colors , from bright red to yellow or green.

Ancient origins and beliefs

The mistletoe got its name in the 2nd century, in the Anglo-Saxon world. One of the first beliefs of the first centuries around the mistletoe was that it grew from birds, as a result of their landing on the branches of trees. But there are many myths surrounding the mistletoe, even from the Vikings! These in the 8th century, apparently, the Vikings believed that mistletoe had the power to resurrect deceased people.

Another mistletoe myth comes from Great Britain, when in the 1st century Druids believed that the plant could perform miracles , from providing fertility to humans and animals, to curing disease and protecting people from witchcraft. The Druids believed that mistletoe was contaminated if it touched the ground, so they used white cloth to catch it.

Isn’t it curious? But, as you may have seen, none of these beliefs is related to kissing under the mistletoe or with Christmas, but without a doubt they are the magical properties that have always been attributed to it, as well as being a typical winter flower, whatever it has done that you can’t think of Christmas without mistletoe and that being close to it can bring luck.

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