Under the Mistletoe

February 5, 2015

I often wonder if kissing under the mistletoe wasn’t started by a couple of kids quite by accident. In my imagination, I could envision a couple of kids playing in the woods behind the house, jumping on the piles of leaves and branches that had fallen on the ground and discovering a little sprig of mistletoe, and running after each other with it, like a game of tag. Again, in my imagination, I could envision this ten-year-old boy running after the girl, tagging her with the mistletoe, and kissing her on the cheek.

As with all childhood games, once the adults see how much fun the kids are having, they take it over and change the rules, and make it into an adult game. So, in my imagination, I can see adults going into the woods, finding some mistletoe sprigs, bringing them back to the house, hanging them in strategic places, and claiming adult kisses from those who pass under it, thereby ruining the innocence of a childhood game.

OK, that’s my imagination. History tells us another story but I’m sticking to mine because I like it better. Their version is that the mistletoe is a parasitic plant that feeds off the host plant and that a heavy infestation of them may kill the entire host plant. They have been found all over the world and don’t seem to serve any purpose other than feeding itself on the branches they grow on.

Knowing that, why in the world would men and women go out looking for them? And why would they even consider kissing someone under those parasitic branches? And, going a step further, why would they be brought into houses during the Christmas holidays and the usual office parties?

The mistletoe plant is often associated with pagan and Norse mythology, and you know how those tales often get blown out of all proportion. While I have read that in ancient times, it was believed that the mistletoe had great healing powers, I haven’t come across any documented cases where those who kissed under it, were healed. Of anything.

The only redeeming feature that I have run across is that when it has sucked the host tree dry and the branches of the host tree die, the mistletoe plant has a very short lifespan and dies. Although, why it lives up to that point, is anyone’s guess. But, like with all mythology, tales grow up around the weirdest set of facts or partial sightings.

Nope. I like my story better. Now that I know that the mistletoe is a parasitic plant that sucks the life force out of its host tree, I can’t think of anyone who would want to be kissed under it.

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