Friday, December 14, 2007


The Washington Post has some historical background on the pagan plant which has long been pleasantly associated with Christmas.
In Greek mythology, Persephone unlocked the gates to the underworld with a wand of mistletoe. The ancient druids venerated mistletoe for its powers and held that when the plant was growing on oak trees, as opposed to apple, it was particularly sacred. The tradition of kissing beneath it, based loosely on Celtic lore, became popular in the 19th century along with other yuletide rituals.

(Thanks to Abbey Roads for the picture.) Share


Enbrethiliel said...


I'm surprised that Baldur wasn't mentioned--but perhaps I just wasn't reading carefully and he was clearly out of the scope of the article. =P

Earlier this month I read Winter Fire by Jo Beverley, a novel set in England, in December of 1763. The characters were gathering mistletoe at one point, and had the following snippet of conversation:

"Loki cut a mistletoe branch and shaped a spear of it. Did he intend to kill or was he ruled only by mischief?"

"But," Genova interrupted, "no one could make a spear out of mistletoe. It's a vine."

"Relentlessly practical," said Ash. "This was before the modern age, before Christ. One story says that the cross was made from the mistletoe tree, which was then cursed into its present feeble state, required to suck life out of other trees."

"In that case, Balder's mother wouldn't have ignored it."

Relentlessly practical. The point of the story won't be affected by logic, Genova."

Isn't it interesting that the mistletoe could so easily capture the imagination of pagans and Christians alike?

elena maria vidal said...

Very. Thank you for the charming quotation, Enbrethiliel.