We’re suckers for romance, obviously, so Christmas is the perfect time for us to get extra fuzzy about love (we didn’t even think that was possible, but here we are!)
Kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas is one of those traditions that divides people – like the Kiss Cam at a sports game, you’re either all in or shoving the other person’s face away as soon as they lean in.
Photography by Kayla Snell
But why exactly do we try to get a smooch under a piece of greenery on Christmas? Before we get into that, here’s a fair warning:
Mistletoe Can Be Poisonous And Parasitic
We’re sorry to ruin the romance of the tradition, but those pretty white berries hanging from the evergreen plant are actually pretty poisonous and can cause some serious stomach problems, so it’s best you don’t pluck one and pop it in your mouth.
Health risks aside, it’s also got the fun bonus of being partly parasitic and attaches itself to host trees to steal their water and nutrients. Super romantic!
Why Do We Kiss Under Mistletoe?
Via tumblr / theniftyfifties
The explanation for this heralds back to Norse mythology, and the story is pretty tragic.
Baldr, the second son of the god Odin and goddess Frigg, was a favourite amongst the gods and was staunchly protected by them all. His mother, Frigg, went so far as to make an oath that nothing would be able to harm Baldr and thus made Baldr invincible. Or so she hoped.
The gods gathered to test Baldr’s invincibility, attacking him with arrows, flames, and more. He remained unscathed until the trickster god, Loki, got involved. He found that Frigg’s oath left out one thing: mistletoe. So he gave the blind god, Höðr, a magical spear made of mistletoe to slay Baldr.
Following this, Frigg’s tears turned into the white berries of the plant and she made another oath that mistletoe would henceforth never be used as a weapon and would place a kiss on anyone who walked underneath it.
Via The Graphics Fairy
Fast forward to the Middle Ages, and mistletoe became a symbol of fertility, with the Celtics using the plant to create an elixir to cure infertility. It then moved into Christmas celebrations, where the practice of kissing under the mistletoe spread throughout 18th Century England as a means of bringing good luck.
The practice stated that men were allowed to kiss any woman under the mistletoe and if she refused, she would have bad luck.
Thankfully we’ve evolved since then.
Sources: Wikipedia, Mental Floss