The Custom of Kissing Under the Mistletoe

The custom of kissing under the mistletoe could possibly be related to a Scandinavian goddess.  Frigga, the goddess of love, marriage, and destiny in Norse mythology, is strongly associated with mistletoe, which has been used as a decoration in homes for thousands of years.

According to Scandinavian legend, the god Balder the Beautiful was killed by a spear of mistletoe and his grieving mother Frigg, who banished the plant to the top of trees.  When Balder came back to life, Frigg made mistletoe a symbol of love.

In Brittany, France, the plant is known as Herbe de la Croix because it is thought that Christ’s cross was made of mistletoe wood.

Mistletoe is associated with many pagan rituals. In fact, the Christian church disliked the plant so much, thanks to its pagan associations, that it forbade its use in any form.  Some English churches continued this ban as late as the 20th century. Druids believed mistletoe growing on oak trees was the most sacred form of the plant and that it offered protection from all evil, as well as being the source of much magic.

The early Christian church banned this use of mistletoe because of its association with Druids. The mystery of the mistletoe’s method of reproduction led many people to link the plant with spontaneous generation, fertility and aphrodisiacs. In medieval times, women wishing to conceive would wrap mistletoe around their waists and wrists to increase their fertility.

Holly became a Christian substitute for mistletoe, which is why we ‘deck the halls’ with it. The sharply pointed leaves in holly were supposed to symbolize the thorns in Christ’s crown and the red berries were to symbolize his blood.

 

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