It used to boggle my mind when I would see the parasitic growth of mistletoe in oak trees around our house and realize traditions make it magic at Christmastime.
What is it about the twig of mistletoe, probably with a red bow tied around it, that gets a romantic heart beating a bit quicker? Does it really stimulate the heart, especially if ‘that special someone’ is close and notices that you are standing underneath it? I'd like to think it does, but I am a romantic and love these kind of legends.
I did a bit of research. There were several explanations for the myth, but since part of my heritage is Danish I thought I would share the Scandinavian version.
The origin of the Christmas mistletoe can be traced back to the ancient Scandinavian custom as well as to the Norse myth. The Scandinavian people believed mistletoe to be a plant of peace. Even if enemies happened to pass beneath the plant, they had to lay down their arms and call truce at least until the next day. Slowly and gradually, this custom gave rise to the kissing tradition that is still in vogue. However, Christmas mistletoe is also very much associated with one of the Norse myths, known as the myth of Baldur.
Baldur, the God of vegetation, was the son of Norse goddess, Frigga. When he was born, Frigga made each and every plant, animal and even inanimate object promise that it will never ever harm Baldur. Somehow, the mistletoe plant escaped the attention of Frigga and Loki, the enemy of Baldur, took advantage of this lapse. He tricked one of the other Gods into killing Baldur with a spear made of mistletoe.
With the death of Baldur, winters came into this world. To correct this situation, the Gods restored Baldur to life. After this incident, Frigga pronounced the mistletoe to be a sacred plant, which would bring love into the world, rather than death. From then onward, whenever two people pass under mistletoe, they kiss and celebrate Baldur's resurrection. Apart from the customs and myths, the Christmas mistletoe has also been associated with kissing as it is regarded as an aphrodisiac.