Happy Mistletoe Day!

Happy first day of December! Today is Christmas Lights Day. It is also Mistletoe Day. Most of you know about the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe. But do you know the origin of this custom?

What is Mistletoe?

Mistletoe is a parasite plant with green leaves that lives off a host tree for sustenance, such as oak, maple or fruit trees. Birds and insects eat the white berries and nest in its foliage; forest animals also eat it.

The Lore of Mistletoe

The legend of Mistletoe comes from a Norse story about the goddess Frigga. According to the story, she ordered all animals and plants not to harm her son. However, she forgot to tell mistletoe. Loki, another god, made an arrow out of mistletoe and tricked another to kill her son. Frigga wept and her tears turned into mistletoe berries. She then said that no one would ever be harmed by mistletoe again, and that anyone standing under it would receive a kiss.

Ancient pagans, such as Celtic Druids, considered trees to be sacred, and they also considered mistletoe to be sacred because it appeared to grow in the air instead of the ground. People wore mistletoe for a lucky charm or hung it in their home to protect them from evil spirits.

During Solstice feasts, Saxons hung mistletoe over the hearth as a pledge that no one would be killed in the home and that the host would defend anyone in his home.

A Poem for Mistletoe Day

Here is a poem by Walter de la Mare entitled Mistletoe

Sitting under the mistletoe

(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),

One last candle burning low,

All the sleepy dancers gone,

Just one candle burning on,

Shadows lurking everywhere:

Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go

Nodding under the mistletoe

(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),

No footsteps came, no voice, but only,

Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,

Stooped in the still and shadowy air

Lips unseen-and kissed me there.

Today, you’ll still see mistletoe hung in a doorway or from a kissing ball in a few homes. If you’d like to revive this custom in your own home, here are some things to know.


People have kissed under the mistletoe at least since the 1800s. The custom goes that a man would kiss the nearest woman under the mistletoe on the cheek (not the lips) and remove a berry from the plant. In these days, of course, the gender isn’t what matters, so much as the demonstration of affection, and of course, you can always politely decline the peck on the cheek. When all the berries are gone, the plant has lost its power. It’s a household custom, you would not hang mistletoe anywhere else but from a door frame in your own home. It’s not really meant to be worn or hung on a Christmas tree (unless it is an ornament designed to look like mistletoe, of course).

Real mistletoe is toxic

The berries should not be eaten by children or pets. You can remove the berries for safety.

Where to Buy Mistletoe

  • Mistletoe (freeze-dried) is available from Amazon for about $9 but it doesn’t have berries. The berries pop out seeds and they are toxic, maybe that’s why.
  • You can find real mistletoe on Etsy.
  • You can buy real (freeze-dried) mistletoe at most independent garden centers.
  • Mistletoe doesn’t really have a fragrance, but Bath and Body Works sells a handsoap, Holiday Mistletoe, and a candle, Merry Mistletoe, scented with balsam, peppermint and cranberry.


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