Merry Mistletoe (and Christmas)

I have written an earlier blog all about the hype around #metoo. First of all I want to say that those who have been involved in any form of unsolicited intimacy (sexual harassment) have my sympathy. There can never be any excuse! Ever!

But I am getting to the point that I really don’t want to hear another word about it.

What surprises me is that people want to seek publicity when I personally think that if you want to confront the person who pressured you into this, a discussion in private might be a better solution with a mediator present. Raking the dirt up time and time again does not solve the problem or issue for either party. And the press and media have a ‘hay day’ with it; especially when well-known people are part of the story.

This week, I saw an article in the national Dutch newspaper about mistletoe. Suddenly giving someone a kiss under the mistletoe can also be deemed as unsolicited intimacy or sexual harassment bordering on rape! Oh, come on… This article left me sitting there thinking, oh for goodness sake what next? It has inspired me to write something about the tradition of mistletoe around Christmas time.

Mistletoe is a plant, which is really a sort of ‘parasite’ for a tree. Mistletoe loves apple trees and is happy to live on the nutrients of said tree. Its delicate olive green leaves and white shiny berries make it look attractive and it grows in clusters usually around the top of the tree.

Maratek (Latin Name: Viscum album) is an evergreen from the Sandalwood family. It is called mistletoe, mistel or bird foam. It is a protected species would you believe it? The English name ‘mistletoe’ came from the conjunction of two Anglo Sachsen words – Mistel meaning ‘manure’ and tan meaning ‘twig’. In fact not such a romantic idea when you then combine and make the words: ‘shit on a twig’!

So where did the tradition come from that people started to hang mistletoe in places and how did the idea come about that you should kiss someone under the mistletoe.

The Christmas tradition to hang mistletoe up finds its roots, like many things, in the Church. From Celtic and Germanic times. They considered this plant to be sacred; it represented fertility and was almost seen as a form of aphrodisiac. Mistletoe played a part in the fertility rights. According to legend a person dressed in white clothing would cut a piece of mistletoe from the cluster. It was not allowed to touch the ground, and was then wrapped in white cloth. Then the Druids slaughtered an animal offer and doused the mistletoe in water, which was considered to be a protection against ills and all evil. The offer was made to the Gods of fertility, like the Norwegian Gods, Freya and Baldr. This was really the start of the tradition.

When the Christians came to Europe, they tried to ban the hanging of mistletoe in the churches, but many continue to do this right up to present day. In York Minster Church in England there used to be a special service for Mistletoe in the winter, in which criminals and such like were forgiven for their sins.

So now we know that mistletoe had quite an important role for many centuries around the Festive Season. But how did we get to the idea that people should kiss under the mistletoe. Mistletoe represents peace and love. Well that all started in Scandinavia in Druid times. When people met one another in the woods and found themselves under the mistletoe, they laid down their weapons and had a cease-fire for the entire day. That is where the tradition comes to hang a piece of mistletoe from the ceiling and kiss one another. It means that the entire day is related to goodwill, peace, love and friendship, which is perfect for the thoughts around Christmas.

Of course the kissing tradition began in England (where else?). Originally you had to pick a berry from the branch before you could kiss someone (who just happened to be standing there with you). When all the berries were gone, no more kissing took place. These days, we are not so difficult about the idea if there are berries or not. Personally I did not know this was the case. So make sure if you want to do a lot of kissing this year, pick a branch with loads of berries!!

Under the motto then, that everyone gets what he or she deserves a survey was done. Do people still kiss under the mistletoe and do they know why and how the tradition came about? I am guessing that the majority of people don’t know. The survey said the same.

Having done this research I am thinking to myself, how on earth can the newspapers write an article that an unsolicited kiss under the mistletoe surmounts to rape. What a load of nonsense.

The ancient meaning of mistletoe around Christmas time is love, peace and friendship.

Whether you hang mistletoe in your home or not, it might be interesting to give this a bit of thought and do it this year. Show your loved ones and friends that a kiss under the mistletoe is just a token of love, friendship and peace. A ‘cease fire’ from the pressures of every day life anno 2017.

I am rushing off out now to buy a branch from my local florists. Are you?

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

15 thoughts on “Merry Mistletoe (and Christmas)”

    1. Thank you very much. yes, I always hope that people who read my blogs will stay in touch, follow the feed etc. It is good to have feedback even if sometimes it can be critical but I always think that the greatest lessons are sometimes learnt from this. My blogs are about things that fascinate me and where I hope to inspire others, even if only to think differently about things.

    1. Thank you so much for your feedback. Yes, I would describe myself as a passionate writer, I have been since a child. As to following my heart, always.

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