When it comes to the topic of Christmas and mistletoe (because someone’s bound to bring it out at a crucial point over the holiday season), you’ll either think it’s the perfect excuse to smooch your secret crush, or simply an old fashioned, awkward tradition that does nothing but lead to embarrassment and eternal regret. Said to be particularly popular throughout Europe, the story behind this festive tradition is an interesting one and now we have a handy video explaining why we’re inclined to whip it out at the opportune moment.
Its origins are far from romantic: Mythology surrounding mistletoe dates back to the ancient Greeks, who believed the plant had healing properties that could aid epilepsy, infertility, and menstrual pain.
According to the Guardian, those in Victorian England viewed mistletoe as extremely important – for a myriad of silly reasons, including, for example, if a girl refused a kiss while standing under mistletoe, it was said that she wouldn’t receive any marriage proposals during the following year. It also has roots in Celtic culture: Druids viewed it as a symbol of life as it grew even during the winter. It’s in Norse mythology that mistletoe has connotations of love and friendship.
Interestingly, there is a proper etiquette for kissing under the mistletoe: first, the man can only kiss a woman or girl on the cheek and second, when he does so, he removes one berry from the mistletoe sprig. After all the berries are gone, the kissing ends, too (Boo). And although it looks adorable wrapped with a ribbon and hung from the ceiling, mistletoe isn’t as friendly as you might think. The plant is actually a parasite that gloms onto trees and steals their water, sunlight, and nutrients. So, if you’re planning to have it in your house this year, be sure to toss it out when the holidays are done.
Watch below for more insightful information, and at the very least you’ll also have a conversation starter should your romantic interest be hovering underneath it…