Botany The kissing under the missletoe.

Discussion in 'Botany' started by JcMinJapan, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. JcMinJapan

    JcMinJapan Premium Member

    I was inspired by HelenHeavens More Amazing Facts. :D
    The kissing under the mistletoe tradition originated from the Druids.

    This is such a neat history of the tradition of the plant.

    The ancient Druids considered the mistletoe to be a sacred plant and believed it had miraculous powers which could cure illnesses, serve as an antidote against poisons, ensure fertility and protect against the ill effects of witchcraft. It was also believed that the mistletoe was an aphrodisiac or a sexual symbol.

    From these strange beliefs has come the modern-day custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and exchanging kisses under it as a sign of friendship and goodwill.

    The tradition of smooching under the mistletoe descends from the customs of several different cultures. For instance, exchanging kisses under the mistletoe was a tradition of Greek festivals and marital ceremonies. If a couple in love exchanges a kiss under the mistletoe, it is interpreted as a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.

    The Anglo-Saxons associated the powers of the mistletoe to the legend of Freya, the goddess of love, beauty and fertility. According to the legend, a man had to kiss any young girl who, without realizing it, found herself accidentally under a sprig of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Guys would pluck a berry when they smooched the girls and when the last berry was gone, there would be no more kissing!

    In France, the custom linked to the mistletoe was reserved for New Year's Day: "Au gui l'An neuf"--Mistletoe for the New Year.

    Today, kisses can be exchanged under the mistletoe any time during the holiday season.
    Did you know?

    Although the mistletoe is considered to be the seed of love, the common name of the plant is derived from the ancient belief that mistletoe grew from bird droppings. This strange belief was related to the ancient principle that life could spring spontaneously from dung.

    In ancient times, people observed that mistletoe appeared on a branch or twig where birds had left droppings. "Mistel" is the Anglo-Saxon word for "dung," and "tan" is the word for "twig". So, mistletoe actually means "dung-on-a-twig". What a strange meaning for a plant that is supposed to bring love and happiness!

    In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce or warring spouses kiss and make-up. Whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day.

    Today's custom of using mistletoe to decorate houses at Christmas is a survival of European beliefs and traditions. In Europe, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. In some countries, they were placed over house and stable doors to prevent the entrance of witches.

    Talen from

    The Plant itself:

    American mistletoe refers to a single one of the more than 200 species of the genus Phoradendron.

    Although the berries of both American and European mistletoe have long been considered poisonous, the leaves, in the form of a tea, have a considerable reputation as a home remedy. The reputed uses of the two plants are as different as their names. American mistletoe is believed to stimulate smooth muscles, causing a rise in blood pressure and increased uterine and intestinal contractions. European mistletoe has precisely the opposite reputation of reducing blood pressure and acting as an antispasmodic and calmative agent.

    Extracts of European mistletoe are sometimes employed in Germany in the treatment of malignant tumors. A sterile solution, available commercially, is injected either intravenously or into the tumor itself to provide palliative treatment for certain types of cancer. The drug has not been approved for use in the United States.

    The debate over just how toxic certain parts of the plant is still raging. I would not recommend using the plant as part of a home remedy. We do not want anyone accidently dieing on now. ;)
  2. pineappleupsidedown

    pineappleupsidedown Premium Member

    Mistletoe is also a parsite. It grows in the crooks of trees and eventually kills them.

    --is this the predessesor to food-on-a-stick?
    --ironic if mistletoe is posionous, huh?

    You are also supposed to remove a berry from the mistletoe branch whenever two kiss. When there are no more berries, the kissing should stop...or not ;)