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Monday 19 December 2022

'Why Do People Kiss Under The Mistletoe?'

When we think of Christmas, lots of traditions spring to mind like holly wreaths, Christmas trees, presents and Father Christmas coming to visit.

One of the perhaps more unusual traditions that many people do at Christmas is to hang a bunch of mistletoe in their house.

The idea is that if you meet someone underneath it, you have to give them a kiss!

But where did this tradition come from?

What is mistletoe?

Mistletoe facts
  • You can get male and female mistletoe - female mistletoe has berries, which is what we hang in our houses at Christmas
  • In the UK it is mainly found in the south-west Midlands
  • You can't grow it in the ground!
Mistletoe is a plant that has been written about in stories and myths for many hundreds of years.

It is what's called a parasitic plant, which means that it has to grow on other trees to get what it needs to live.

It's not possible for you to grow it in a pot or in the ground on its own.

The most common trees on which it grows in the UK are apple trees, but it can grow on others.

There are up to 1,500 species of mistletoe around the world, but the European mistletoe that we know is a type called Viscum album.

While in the UK we associate mistletoe with Christmas, other countries link it more to New Year.

For example, France sees it as a good luck charm and French people often give it to friends as a New Year gift to wish them luck in the coming 12 months.

Why do people kiss underneath it?

The short answer to this question is there is no one simple reason!

The UK tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is thought to have started in the 1700s, but it became much more popular throughout the 1800s.

The Victorians especially became big fans of puckering up under the plant - and it's stuck ever since!

Victorian couples kissing underneath the mistletoe

The reason there isn't one clear explanation why we kiss underneath mistletoe is because the plant has been linked to many stories and traditions over hundreds of years, and different people see it in different ways.

One of the more common meanings is that mistletoe is seen as a symbol of fertility and life - and that this could be why we kiss underneath it.

In winter, when all the trees are bare and many plants have died away, mistletoe stays green and you can still see it growing around tree branches quite happily.

It also thrives as not a lot of birds will eat mistletoe berries because they are not a dark colour. Not very many other animals eat them either as they can be poisonous in large quantities.

But that's not the only possible explanation! There are other stories too for why people might have started kissing under the mistletoe.

Ancient Norwegian and Scandinavian tales agree that mistletoe has meanings of love and friendship. It is said that the mistletoe's white berries are tears that the goddess of love called Frigg cried for her son Baldr (Balder, Baldur), and that she announced that mistletoe should be a plant of love.

"Other traditions, including Greek and Roman accounts, portray mistletoe as a plant of peace and friendship," he added.

With so many connections in different cultures to love and friendship, and creating new life, it is clear how a tradition of sharing a kiss underneath it has developed.
Above words from here

You may also like to read 'Christmas, the history behind our festive traditions' please see post here

Are you ...
Looking for a fool-proof way to cook your turkey look here
You may want a low carb mince pie recipe look here
Have you seen 'The Best Low Carb Christmas Pudding Recipe Ever' - look here

Thanks for reading ...

All the best Jan


Elephant's Child said...

The perfect excuse to kiss someone?

Giorgio said...

Interesting info about such particular Christmas tradition!
Have a nice week!

Valerie-Jael said...

Whatever the reason - kissing and love are always better that war and darkness. Valerie

Stefania said...

Grazie infinite per tutte queste belle informazioni

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

I remember the first time I saw mistletoe in person, growing on an apple tree in domebody's yard. It was magical. Then there's the poisonous issue, American vs European mistletoe.

Tom said... the US, mistletoe grows in oak trees down south.

Little Wandering Wren said...

Fascinating! I'm back in Australia and we came across mistletoe the other day in Western Australia. Did you know there are 97 types of mistletoe in Australia and that the medical properties of particular species were even used to treat common colds?
Have a lovely Christmas
Wren x

Mary Kirkland said...

That's interesting to know.

It's me said...

Nice to read ….have a beautiful week …olmost Christmas… 🍀❤️🎄🐾🍀

Christine said...


Chatty Crone said...

I didn't know there were male and female mistletoe.
Maybe in the Victorian age the only way to kiss was under the mistletoe. ??

happyone said...

Learned some interesting things here. Thanks.

Teresa said...

Historias interesantes. En España se cría por el norte, lo he visto en manzanos. Besos.

Kay said...

The first time we saw mistletoe was on several trees in Germany. We didn't know what it was until someone kindly informed us.

My name is Erika. said...

Fascinating post. I always wondered about hanging mistletoe and someone kissing you.

Practical Parsimony said...

Sir James George Frazier wrote "The Golden Bough" about mythology, magic and comparative religion, and discusses the mistletoe that he believes is the golden bough in the Aeneid. This book is fascinating, so much so that I have read it twice.

DrumMajor said...

I remember hearing about people shooting mistletoe out of trees in Oklahoma for the holidays. Hmmm, being Scrooge-like, if it's a parasite, maybe that's how kissing under it gets you a spouse that's like a parasite. Linda in Kansas

OLga said...

Post interessante sulle tradizioni natalizie!

Ananka said...

I have one hanging up but don't want to kiss him since he is still unwell haha! My daughter is back at nursery this week and back to normal, just a little tickle of a cough left.

Jo said...

It's funny how these traditions continue even though we don't know why we do them.

José Antonio Sánchez Rumí said...

Very interesting this information about mistletoe that I sincerely disregarded.
Merry Christmas.
Best regards.

RO said...

Such great info, and you know I love ❤️ my trivia. Sending lots of hugs and Happy holidays 🤗 to you and your family. RO

William Kendall said...

Interesting background.

Buttercup said...

What a fun post. I need to look at low carb puddings. Happy and merry wishes to you!

carol l mckenna said...

Oh what a wonderful post about the origin and tradition of mistletoe ~ Xo

Wishing you good health, laughter, and love in your days,
A ShutterBug Explores,
aka (A Creative Harbor)

Anita said...

oh such a nice post!Love that retro picture--amazing!
So now i am waiting for what are you going to serve for Christmas?

All good to you for such a great healthy blog!May the force be with you:))

Practical Parsimony said...

Here in the South, mistletoe grows in oak trees. I had lots of inaccessible mistletoe in my yard.

Jeff said...

In the South of the US, along the coastal plain, mistletoe is very common. Less so where I live now. Thanks for the insights in the background to this plant.

The Happy Whisk said...

That's pretty neat that there are male and female. I didn't know that. Neato.

Laura. M said...

Feliz Navidad 🎄 Merry Christmas Para Todos Que paséis unas Buenas Fiestas.
Un abrazo 🤗〰〰💕

Jenny Woolf said...

My friend is very keen on countryside folklore and has told us about all kinds of legends attached to various trees. Last year when we were going round churches and looked out for ancient yews. Surprisingly often a parish church will have a yew dating back many hundreds of years, possibly planted even before Christianity, apparently - it is thought they must have been part of the old pagan religion. I find this kind of stuff amazing.

Debbie said...

i always forget about smooching under the mistletoe!!

Conniecrafter said...

Oh wow I never knew that it can't grow on it's own, very interesting.
Funny there is no real reason why it started to kiss under it. Some things just catch on.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!

Martha said...

Very interesting information! You learn something new every day.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Any reason at all for kissing is great in my book!