Mistletoe is an evergreen. The traditions of displaying evergreens at Christmas came about as a way to bring color and the green hope of spring into the home.This plant however is a parasitic shrub. It grows on trees, living off the host plant. They are not full parasites, since the plants are capable of photosynthesis. But these mistletoe plants are parasitic in the sense that they send a special kind of root system down into their hosts, the trees upon which they grow, in order to extract nutrients from the trees.
Mistletoe has long been regarded as an aphrodisiac and fertility herb. It may also possess abortifacient qualities, which would help explain its association with uninhibited sexuality.
The unusual botanical history of mistletoe goes a long way towards explaining the awe in which it was held in the Norse myths. For in spite of not being rooted in the soil, mistletoe remained green throughout the winter, while the trees upon which it grew and upon which it fed did not (the European mistletoe often grows on apple trees; more rarely on oaks). This little plant remaining green while the host plant died fascinated the unscientific masses.
The folklore, and the magical powers of this plant, spread through the centuries It was thought placing a sprig in a baby's cradle would protect the child from faeries. Giving a sprig to the first cow calving after New Year would protect the entire herd.
Ancient Scandinavia and the Norse mythology is where the tale of kissing und the mistletoe started. It was considered a plant of peace in Scandinavian history. If enemies found themselves under mistletoe in the forest they laid down their weapons and called a truce until the next day.
Most say kissing under the mistletoe is an English custom even though there is a story that dates back to Norse mythology. It is about an overprotective mother.
The Norse god Balder was the best loved of all the gods. His mother was Frigga, goddess of love and beauty. She loved her son so much that she wanted to make sure no harm would come to him. So she went through the world, securing promises from everything that sprang from the four elements--fire, water, air, and earth--that they would not harm her beloved Balder.
Leave it to Loki, a sly, evil spirit, to find the loophole. The loophole was mistletoe. He made an arrow from its wood. To make the prank even nastier, he took the arrow to Hoder, Balder's brother, who was blind. Guiding Holder's hand, Loki directed the arrow at Balder's heart, and he fell dead.
Frigga's tears became the mistletoe's white berries. In the version of the story with a happy ending, Balder is restored to life, and Frigga is so grateful that she reverses the reputation of the offending plant--making it a symbol of love and promising to bestow a kiss upon anyone who passes under it.
Is hanging mistletoe a tradition in your family?
My newest Christmas release-
A Husband for Christmas
Final Novella in the Halsey Homecoming and Halsey Brothers Series
Shayla Halsey wanted to be home for Christmas, but never imagined her travels would include spending the night in a brooding stranger’s cabin. Snowballing events cause her to look inside herself and recognize maybe it wasn’t being home she wanted as much as it was to have a home.
Mace Walker has his life in order and doesn’t want it disrupted again. Yet, when he discovers a woman stranded in the snow, he has to help her—despite her overbearing and reckless fiancé. In a matter of days, Shayla turns his life upside down and forces him to decide if he should leave town or face the consequences.
About Paty Jager:
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
All Paty’s work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story. She recently returned to the genre of her heart- Mystery.
You can learn more about Paty at
her blog; Writing into the Sunset
her website; http://www.patyjager.net
Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle: http://eepurl.com/1CFgX