When the time comes to decorate your home for the holiday season, it simply wouldn’t be complete without mistletoe.
While holly, ivy and poinsettia can often be seen at this time of year, mistletoe has its own special place over the front door.
- We might view mistletoe as a beautiful and seasonal plant, but did you know that it is actually poisonous to humans? Drowsiness, vomiting and seizures are possible effects that you will experience if you consume the plant.
- Over the years, mistletoe has been used as a medicine. In Europe, it has been used to cure all sorts of illnesses, including arthritis, leprosy and infertility. Injections of mistletoe can be acquired in certain parts of Europe as a cure for cancer.
- There isn’t just one type of mistletoe – you can find as many as 1,300 varieties around the world. One of the varieties is known as dwarf mistletoe, which has orange or yellow leaves.
- It is mainly spread through birds’ droppings, which explains the origins of the word ‘mistletoe’. The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon words ‘mist’ and ‘tan’, which mean ‘dung twig’ when translated.
- Have you ever thought about why people kiss one another when caught under the mistletoe? Legend has it that the goddess Frigga had a son named Balder who was killed by an arrow made from mistletoe. Her tears of sadness brought Balder to life again, and Frigga then promised that all who passed under the mistletoe should receive a kiss.
- Despite it being thought of as a romantic plant, it is considered quite a pest around the world. When mistletoe seeds are carried to trees, they spread around the branches and can cause stunt of growth or even death to the tree.
- Hanging mistletoe inside the house dates back to the time of the Druids. They believed that this plant would bring them good luck and keep evil spirits away. However, Christians in Western Europe hated the idea of hanging mistletoe around their homes and within the churches, and tried to ban it altogether.
- The song lyrics to ‘Blame it on the Mistletoe‘ tell the story of a couple who meet and strike up a relationship after kissing under the mistletoe.
- Of the hundreds of mistletoe varieties, there are twenty of them which are endangered. Always check before picking mistletoe for your Christmas party!
- In Oklahoma, mistletoe is the state flower.
- Harper’s Weekly began featuring pictures of couples kissing under the mistletoe during the mid to late 1800’s.
- An old tradition involving mistletoe was to pick off one berry after each kiss. This meant that by the time all the berries had been picked off, nobody would be kissed under the mistletoe anymore. However, over time, this tradition was forgotten, and nowadays, nobody touches the berries.
- Mistletoe was often used as a symbol of peace, and was pictured on the front of postcards which were sent to soldiers during the Great War.
- If you ever see candles and other items being advertised with the scent of ‘mistletoe’ labelled on them, you’re being told a lie, according to experts. The plant has absolutely no smell at all.
- Christmas isn’t the only occasion which mistletoe has been associated with down the ages. It was once thought that witches and ghosts would stay away at Halloween if this plant was present.
- Women in Medieval England used to tie mistletoe around their waists in the hope that it would make them more fertile.