Christmas is closely associated with mistletoe, the symbol of love. Read on to find out more about the legend of the mistletoe.

Legend Of Mistletoe

Christmas is celebrated all around the world on the 25th of December. It is the birth anniversary of Lord Jesus. There are many things that are associated with Christmas like, the Christmas tree, the nativity scenes, the warm fireplace and mistletoe. It is a season of love and warmth. The spirit of Christmas is celebrated with family and friends with loads of gifts and Christmas cheer. One of the most important symbols of love of course, is the mistletoe. There are different legends about this particular plant and it is held dear by both the Celts and the Norse druids. Mistletoe is also said to have medicinal properties in folklore. It was used as a cure for headaches and even toothaches! It has been known as the 'golden bough' by many. Kissing under the mistletoe is a popular belief. But how many of us really know the story? Read on to find out more about the legend of the mistletoe.

The Symbol Of Love

Kissing Under The Mistletoe

The legend behind kissing under the mistletoe comes from Norse mythology. It is said that there was a god named Baldr. He had a premonition about his death, and he knew he was going to be murdered. His mother Frigg was worried about this and made every living thing promise that they would not kill her son. The only thing that she left out was the mistletoe. Loki, an evil God who knew about this, wanting to exploit this opportunity, attended an assembly in Valhalla, where all the Gods were taking turns in shooting arrows at Baldr for fun; they were in awe when they saw that nothing could harm him. Loki handed Holder, Baldr's blind brother, an arrow made from mistletoe and asked him to take a shot at Loki too. This arrow killed Baldr. For three days after his death, every living thing came to revive him but failed. Finally, he was revived by Frigg and the mistletoe itself. Frigg's tears became little white berries on the mistletoe plant and she said that anyone who stood under the mistletoe would never be harmed and would be entitled to a kiss. There are many different endings to the legend. One says that Baldr was never revived and was given a Viking's funeral, and people are waiting for him to come back and bring in a new era. But whatever the version, the common fact is that Frigg swore that the mistletoe would never harm anyone and made it a symbol of love.

Kissing under the mistletoe was associated first with the Greeks. They used to do this during the festival of Saturnalia and even marriages. This probably arose from the belief that mistletoe was associated with fertility.

In Scandinavia, the mistletoe was known as a plant of peace. If one stood under a sprig of mistletoe, it was said that enemies could call a truce, and married couples who were fighting could kiss and resolve their issues.

In France, kissing under the mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day. It was called 'Au gui l'An neuf' which literally means 'Mistletoe for the New Year'.

In 18th century England, people came up with a fancy version of the mistletoe known as a 'kissing ball'. The kissing ball was made from a ball of mistletoe, covered with ribbons and ornaments. A woman who stood under this could not refuse a kiss. If kissed, she was bound to marry the person who kissed her or have a life-long friendship with them. If no one kissed a girl standing under the kissing ball, it was said that she would not be married through the rest of the year.

Different Beliefs
  • Mistletoe has been known as a magical and sacred plant in European folklore. It was said that it bestowed life and fertility and offered protection against poison. The mistletoe was also a popular aphrodisiac.
  • To the Celts, the mistletoe that grew on oak trees was precious and sacred. They used a sickle made of gold to cut it down and were extremely careful about even letting it touch the ground lest it loose its magical properties.
  • Mistletoe has been seen as a sexual symbol and the soul of an oak tree.
  • People collected mistletoe during summer and winter solstices and decorated their houses with it during Christmas.
  • During the Middle Ages, mistletoe was used to ward off evil. In Europe, It was also used to keep witches away from the home.
  • People also believed that mistletoe twigs could extinguish fires as they believed that mistletoe growing on oak trees came from flash lightening.
Christmas is a time of love and cheer. Why not go out and kiss your loved one under that special sprig of mistletoe? After all, now you know the legends associated with it, and they all have to reciprocate the kiss with love.