What is your one go-to holiday decoration? You know, the one that the seasonal decorating is incomplete without? I have a couple of ornaments for the tree that, without them, it would be incomplete.. but my #1…
Yup, you guessed right. Mistletoe, of course! I finally purchased a ‘kissing ball’ after a few years of searching without many quality options (note, if you’re looking, I’d recommend Amazon!).
According to Wikipedia (the most accurate reference of all),
European mistletoe, Viscum album, figured prominently in Greek mythology, and is believed to be The Golden Bough ofAeneas, ancestor of the Romans. According to the 13th century Prose Edda, because of the scheming of Loki, the god Baldr was killed by his brother, the blind god Höðr, by way of a mistletoe projectile, despite the attempts of Baldr’s mother, the goddess Frigg, to have all living things and inanimate objects swear an oath not to hurt Baldr after Baldr had troubling dreams of his death. Frigg was unable to get an oath from mistletoe, because “it seemed too young” to demand an oath from. In the Gesta Danorum version of the story, Baldr and Höðr are rival suitors, and Höðr kills Baldr with a sword named Mistilteinn (Old Norse “mistletoe”). In addition, a sword by the same name appears in various other Norse legends.
In cultures across pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence (and thus romance, fertility and vitality). According to Pliny the Elder, the Celts considered it a remedy for barrenness in animals and an antidote to poison.
When Christianity became widespread in Europe after the third century AD, the religious or mystical respect for the mistletoe plant was integrated to an extent into the new religion. In some way that is not presently understood, this may have led to the widespread custom of kissing under the mistletoe plant during the Christmas season. The earliest documented case of kissing under the mistletoe dates from 16th century England, a custom that was apparently very popular at that time.
Whatever the origins of this custom, I’m on board. Now to just make sure a cutie lands under my doorway this holiday season….
What’s your favorite decoration for the house during the holiday season?