My husband and I took my granddaughters to Christmas in the Streets in downtown Chickamauga last Saturday. Each year the street in front of the Merchants is closed, and vendors set up. One of the vendors was the local boyscouts who were selling reindeer food and mistletoe.
What does Mistletoe have to do with Christmas? Everyone has heard of “kissing” under the mistletoe. As early as the 16th century the custom of bringing the hostess a sprig of mistletoe to hang from the door or light fixture was documented. Any female lingering under the sprig was a target for a kiss.
Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant, receiving its nutrition from other plants. The mistletoe plant has been describe as early as 23 BC by Pliny the Elder, who reported the belief that the appearance of mistletoe on the sacred oak was a cause of celebration since it occurred so infrequently. It was also believed that it contained the life of the oak tree after it had lost it’s leaves in the winter. When cut from the oak tree it contained some of the sacred power of the oak. Many ancient religions including the Romans, Greeks, Celtics incorporated Mistletoe into their ceremonies and myths. With Christianity, many of the mystical aspects of the mistletoe were abandoned, but kissing under the plant was “okayed”.
Mistletoe has also been used medicinally throughout the years for a wide range of conditions. Epilepsy, fertility and conception, healing of ulcers, were a few of the uses of Mistletoe. Most recently Suzanne Somers brought mistletoe to the forefront again, when she reportedly used it in her holistic treatment of her breast cancer. The drug used is Iscador, made with mistletoe extract.
Mistletoe is widely available around Christmas, and you would be better served to purchase it than try to start it in your own tree. It often harms the tree that it chooses as it hosts.