Christmas Traditions: Mistletoe

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This is third in a series of 12 posts on historical Christmas traditions. I didn’t note my sources, but please trust I did verify the information.

We can thank the Celts this one, who revered mistletoe for its healing and fertility properties and believed it could bring luck and ward off evil. It grows at the top of many trees, including the Celts’ beloved apple and sacred oak. (It also is a symbol of peace and could be used to broker a truce during war.)

Some say the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began with the Greeks, who also held it sacred, while others say we do it because the Norse associated it with love and friendship (it was sacred to the goddess Freya). I’ve also seen claims that the tradition really dates to the Victorian era and was once believed to be a promise of marriage.

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