Popular Christmas traditions in Europe and North America feature illustrations or ads with couples kissing under the mistletoe. While this tradition sees less practice today, it still makes you wonder...who started the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe?
Mistletoe has a deep and varied background that spans many historical cultures. The Greeks and Romans used mistletoe because they thought it had healing properties. Ancient Greeks used it as a cure-all for spleen-related issues as well as menstrual cramps, and Ancient Romans thought it helped with epilepsy and used it as a balm against poisons.
Around 1 A.D., Celtic Druids began to use the plant to help with human and animal fertility. The thought was that since the berries were able to bloom even in the coldest winters that the plant itself had powers of fertility.
Mistletoe has also made a cultural mark outside of ancient medicinal practices. According to Norse mythology, Frigg AKA Freya, the goddess of love, implored all the plants and animals of the natural world not to harm her son Baldur, after ha seer prophesized his death. However, Frigg forgets to ask the mistletoe plant, which prompts Loki, the god of mischief, to use it in an arrow to kill Baldur.
According to another version of the lore, the gods bring Baldur back from the dead. Frigg is so delighted that she declares the mistletoe as a symbol of love and vows to kiss anyone who passes underneath it.
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