Christmas is a season for love, peace and giving. During Christmas, different kinds of Christmas gifts, Christmas hampers, Christmas ornaments and decorations swarm the local and online stores. However, Christmas holiday is not just about material things and fancy Christmas gift baskets and stuffs. It’s not also about flashy Christmas cards and gift tags. Christmas celebration also observes the true meaning of the Christmas. Knowing the history of features of Christmas can be useful. Let’s start with mistletoe.
The mistletoe has been in the lives of people, in the West, for many years. The earliest record of mistletoe is 200 years before Jesus. The druids of old used the magical powers of the mistletoe when celebrating the different aspects of the winter season. The mistletoe has been associated with peace, love, healing and magic.
History of Mistletoe
Mistletoe played an integral part in the lives of the Vikings who lived in the middle Ages. It continued to feature in Norse myths; Norse mythology is the study of the stories told during the Viking age in the Germanic countries (Germany, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and Faroe Islands). If any of these countries were at war with each other and the mistletoe was found on the battle field, all the men would lay down their weapons and have a temporary cease fire or truce that lasted about 24 hours. This was the peace plant and everyone respected it.
During the festival of Saturnalia, the ancient Greeks and Romans had a weeklong festival in honor of Saturn. It was during this time that the kissing under a sprig of mistletoe was common for its ‘life-giving’ properties. In ages past, for those getting married, the mistletoe was used in this rite of passage to impart fertility upon the couple. At Christmas time the mistletoe made everyone around it kissable whether he or she was a friend, foe, relative or stranger. The tradition of kissing during the holiday season is a rendition of kissing the ball as in the days of old.
Origin of Mistletoe for Christmas
The mistletoe can be found growing as a shrub in the wild making its own food using photosynthesis like other green plants. The mistletoe also grows on other trees where it sinks its roots in the tree and gets its nutrients from the trunk of its host. The mistletoe is thus called a hemi parasite; that is a partial parasite. There are two species of Christmas mistletoe, American Mistletoe and European Mistletoe.
The American Mistletoe originates in America. Its scientific name is Phoradendron flavescence and occurs/grows naturally on trees. The American Mistletoe is found growing in the East Coast states of America from New Jersey to Florida. This is the plant which is commonly used around Christmas for the kissing tradition.
The European Mistletoe is the variety that grows as a shrub. Its scientific name is Viscum album. The leaves are green, its flowers yellow and white giving way to sticky berries. This species is found growing on apple trees.
Mistletoe as Christmas Decoration and Ornaments
With its vibrant color, mistletoe are often used as Christmas ornaments. Some people also use this as decorations for their Christmas gift baskets and Christmas hamper. They use mistletoe to add the natural touch to their Christmas basket hampers.