I'm a freshman in high school, and this year, I was placed in a mythology class as an elective. We've studied the origins of several traditions that are practiced today, and it's fascinating to see how many have resulted from the mythologies of ancient cultures. That being said, it didn't surprise me when I learned that this tradition also evolved from mythology. Mistletoe has been a prized plant in many cultures over the years due to its many healing properties, and the most commonly told story of its origin comes from the Celtic Druids of the first century A.D. They saw that the mistletoe plant was one of the few that could still blossom during the winter months, which led them to see it as a symbol of life, fertility, and sexuality. This belief spread, rooting itself in the cultures of other civilizations, and the traditions of mistletoe began.
In Norse mythology, there is a myth that Baldar, the god of summer, had a dream of his mother convincing the plants and animals of the earth not to harm him. She extracted the promise from all except the mistletoe plant, and because of this, another god used the poison of the plant to kill Baldar with the help of Baldar's brother. His death brought winter, and with the help of his mother, he was raised to the dead as her tears touched the berries of the mistletoe plant, turning them white. His mother vowed to bestow a kiss upon everyone that walked beneath the plant and that it would bring love to the world, not death. This myth let to what today is the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.
The history of this tradition even has roots in Christianity. Christians believed that the cross on which Christ was crucified was made from the plant, and as payment for its role in His death, it is condemned to bless everyone that walked beneath it. This idea is believed to have sprung from the Norse belief and is what really popularized this tradition.
I haven't had my kiss under the mistletoe yet, but perhaps I'll take part in carrying on this romantic tradition next year. Have you shared a kiss under the mistletoe? Let me know in the comments below!
Want to read more about the history of mistletoe? Check out these links!