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Christmas is a time in which family traditions come alive and every family celebrates the holidays in their own way. In our Symbols of Christmas Series of ornaments, the third of nine symbols is Mistletoe.

Mistletoe is a creeping plant that attaches itself to branches of a tree or shrub, and then absorbs the nutrients from its host. They are difficult to remove, because they deeply penetrate into the tree or bush. In many places, it is considered a pest and when it grows in abundance, it diminishes natural habitats.  However, mysticism surrounds this plant and people had great respect for its powers.


The Ancient Beginnings Of Mistletoe

The ancient Druids believed mistletoe to be a holy plant with mystical powers. This parasitic plant was thought to bring good luck as well as ward off evil spirits so many hung it in their homes in hopes of protecting their household. Healers used the mistletoe extract for health maladies but there is no support for these claims. In fact, the mistletoe plan is poisonous to ingest and causes gastrointestinal problems!

In old Cornish folklore, it is said that mistletoe used to be a tree. They believed that the mistletoe wood was used to make the cross that held Jesus for his crucifixion. From then on, the mystical plant was no longer a tree, but condemned to be a parasitic plant. In York, in the United Kingdom, many churches have a Mistletoe Service, in which wrong doers come and are pardoned for their sins and crimes.

One superstition even maintains that the mistletoe must not touch the ground between the cutting and removal of it from a tree or shrub, lest the soil become cursed. What started out as reverence for the mystical mistletoe plant has now become a negative association with evil due to its spreading parasitic nature!

A Holiday Tradition Of Kissing Under The Mistletoe

The act of couples kissing under the mistletoe was a practice that began in 16th century England. It comes from Norse mythology in which mistletoe was a sign of love and friendship. The old tradition was that a man and woman who met underneath the mistletoe must kiss. But did you know there is a limit to the number of lip locks? Every time a kiss underneath it occurs, a berry is plucked. When all of the berries are gone, so are the kissing privileges!

Because this fun tradition became a favorite holiday party game, mistletoe began being harvested for Christmas decorations. To this day, many still hang that sprig of mistletoe with berries in the doorway hoping for two unsuspecting passersby to end up beneath its branches. Purchase some mistletoe this season and try it out for your next holiday party and have a little fun surprising your guests!

Get Your Christmas Mistletoe Here!

Create a new family tradition with The Christmas Mistletoe ornament from ChristmasOrnaments.com. Each mistletoe ornament comes with a hangtag to share the legend of the special ornament with you. The hangtag says, “The custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from England.”

In the United Kingdom they celebrate National Mistletoe Day the first Saturday in December. The town of Tenbury Wells hosts the Annual Mistletoe Festival , complete with a parade, the crowning of the Misteltoe Queen and mistletoe auctions!

Read about and share the other eight Christmas legends of the Christmas Tree, Candy Cane, Apple, Orange, Poinsettia, Partridge, Nutcracker and Pickle.

Collect all of our nine Symbols of Christmas Series ornaments: Pickle, Christmas Tree, Mistletoe, Candy Cane, Apple, Orange, Poinsettia, Partridge and Nutcracker for friends and family this holiday season!