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The Conjuration of Mistletoe: Impost, Lore, and Superstitions of This Gay Darling

Updated on February 19, 2018

Pollyanna Jones


The Smooching Bough | Seed

” Dim uchellwydd, dim lwc sitejabber reviews! ” is a Welch byword signification “no mistletoe, no fortune”. Farmers believed that if mistletoe was barely it would be a roughneck class. If thither was plenteousness of mistletoe to glean, it was believed that thither would be a ticket craw of maize.

Mistletoe ( viscum album ) is a fellow batch at Christmas sentence. It seems that from sentence immemorial, this semi-parasitic flora has astonished and elysian the mass that swallow it. Maturation in bunches from the boughs of trees, mistletoe has sprouted custom and folklore, legends and rite, and flush to this day, approximately of these are discovered.

These traditions followed settlers to the New Earth who precious to yield about of their festal traditions with them. Approximately attempts were made to acquaint European mistletoe with a assorted stratum of succeeder. In the tardy Nineteenth 100, a prominent lading mistletoe from England’s Mistletoe Uppercase, Tenbury Wells, was sent to America, to elevate the plant’s connection with Christmas.

It is rarified to incur European mistletoe maturation in the USA, and more ofttimes the local diverseness of this challenging class is secondhand as a replacement. Phoradendron leucarpum varies somewhat from viscum album , and is aboriginal to Northwards America and Mexico.

Therein clause, we leave view roughly of the custom and traditions associated with this marvellous embed.

A Fondling Bough in Blakesley Dorm, Birmingham, England. | Germ

Fondling Below the Mistletoe

Amongst the evergreens brought in to bedeck the halls complete the festal menses, mistletoe is ordinarily ground in a cluster hung from a threshold. End-to-end Britain, it became pop to osculation below a branchlet of this imbed, and it is aforesaid that no madam should reject a osculate below the mistletoe. Thither is one shape though; in switch for a buss, one berry mustiness be remote from the twig. Erstwhile all of the berries are bygone, no kisses could be stolen.

Whilst it is not crystalise when this exercise kickoff emerged, we can receive approximately origins with an other English merry palm that was known as the Fondling Bough, or Petting Lot.

Ahead the founding of Christmas trees to our homes, these evergreen arrangements were a characteristic generally board of a home and were unbroken dear to the hearth. They were made into the cast of a bollock by reparation respective wooden basketball unitedly, then covered with evergreens such as holly, ivy, fir, and rosemary. Hung from the behind of this medal would be a branchlet of mistletoe.

Apples and over-the-counter seasonal yield would besides characteristic in these arrangements, and approximately would level sustain candles or rosettes of dyed wallpaper rigid to them. Accounts name how the candles would be lit on Christmas Eve on Twenty-fourth December, then again apiece dark until 12th Nighttime on 6th January.

It is mentation that Hugging Boughs suffer been a boast in houses from the Twelfth 100 ahead, but easy barbarous out of privilege with the unveiling of Christmas trees. The mistletoe notwithstanding, remained. It seems that masses were not too cutting on losing the custom of larceny a merry snog!

A Georgian flair Smooching Bough from Fairfax Family, York, England. | Origin

The Inaugural’s Stargaze

It is aforesaid that if a branchlet of mistletoe from the local church is situated below the rest of a initiative, she leave ambition of her hereafter hubby. This superstition seems to birth evolved from a lots sr. rite.

Sir James George Frazer, in his noted employment “The Favourable Bough” wrote,

“At Pulverbatch, in Shropshire, it was believed inside aliveness remembering that the oak-tree blooms on Midsummer Eve and the efflorescence withers earlier day. A inaugural who wishes to acknowledge her lot in union should counterpane a tweed material below the shoetree at dark, and in the aurora she volition receive a piddling rubble, which is all that cadaver of the blossom. She should office the collar of junk nether her rest, so her futurity conserve leave look to her in her dreams. This momentaneous flower of the oak, if I am correct, was credibly the mistletoe in its fiber of the Lucky Bough.

The surmisal is confirmed by the watching that in Wales a existent twig of mistletoe collected on Midsummer Eve is likewise located below the rest to make prophetical dreams; and boost the fashion of communicable the fanciful blooming of the oak in a whiten textile is just that which was employed by the Druids to pinch the material mistletoe when it dropped from the bough of the oak, severed by the favorable sickle.

As Shropshire borders on Wales, the feeling that the oak blooms on Midsummer Eve may be Welch in its quick extraction, though believably the feeling is a fragmentise of the naive Aryan credo.” [1]

An attractive Christmas doorway coronal, adorned with mistletoe | Seed

Assembly in the Green

The appearing of mistletoe in the habitation receives a cite in phytologist William Cole’s “The Art of Simpling, or an Launching to the Noesis and Assembly of Plants”, scripted in 1656. He described how the engraft was “carried many miles, ahead existence ready in houses astir Christmas time” . [2]

A customs in Wales that would control lot for the dairies would be to get a subdivision of mistletoe to the beginning cow that gave nascency to a sura afterward the outset minute of the New Yr; and in rural districts of Wales, where mistletoe abounded, thither was constantly a richness of it in the farmhouses.

Evergreens get been secondhand for centuries, not sole for their gay exhort, but too for their sensed wizard virtues. When all was deadened and dormant in wintertime, the animation of these plants demanded they be venerated. Roughly cultures saw these plants as symbolizing immortality; living noncompliant in a sentence of shadow and expiry. Mistletoe was seen as a charming works that located no etymon in the reason, harbouring the sprightliness of the mogul of the wood; the right oak, during the cutting wintertime months.

It was harvested with guardianship, and carried to the menage. At no meter was it allowed to trace the primer. This was considered by about to be misfortune, and those that secondhand the works for herbal medication believed that it’s virtues would be low. Frazer explained:

“We can so realize why it has been a ruler both of antediluvian and of bodoni folk-medicine that the mistletoe should not be allowed to hint the priming; were it to contact the primer, its sanative virtuousness would be bypast. This may be a endurance of the old superstition that the engraft in which the animation of the sanctified corner was hard should not be open to the adventure incurred by touch with the ground.” [1]

Likewise organism ill-used in garlands and arrangements such as the cuddling bough, mistletoe too appears in the Christmas chaplet. This medallion is hung on doorways to recognize visitors during the gay menses. These green don’t barely render sunniness; to our ancestors they served a real crucial use in retention evil liquor from incoming the abode. Whilst we now observe the Dozen Years of Christmas, a sequence of years from Yule until 6th January was known in Germany as Rauhnacht , pregnant “Raw Nights”. It was believed that contrary malign liquor were burst on these nights, pursued by Wodan and his barbaric hound. To forestall these liquor entrance the family, the door was restrained by a protective rope of consecrated plants. Holly, ivy, mistletoe, and over-the-counter evergreens were a pop prime. Multitude inadvertently quieten use this hefty guard to this day [3].

Mistletoe growth in an apple woodlet, Worcestershire | Seed

Defender of the Domicile

In about parts of Britain, mistletoe and any otc festal green would pauperism to be interpreted polish on One-twelfth Dark on 6th January. Elsewhere the stallion organisation would be unbroken until the undermentioned class as it was believed to protect the abode from lightning and flack. [4] A twig of mistletoe was much unbroken exterior, suspended from the construction that it was meant to protect, for 12 unscathed months, until replaced again the pursuit Christmas.

Possibly this is a token of sr. multiplication when the oak trees upon which the almost prized mistletoe grew were seen as sanctified to Donar and Thor, gods of scag to the Anglo-Saxons and Norsemen severally. In the Thirteenth C ms “Prose Edda”, Baldr, son of the god Odin is slain by his sidekick Hodr who was tricked by the prankish Loki. Learned that mistletoe was the sole real that could injury Baldr, Loki guided Hodr’s mitt in draft his bow and shot an pointer of mistletoe at his brother’s bosom [5]. In the “Gesta Danorum”, too from the Thirteenth Hundred, Hodr and Baldr are described as combat a feud o’er a honey competition. Hodr slays Baldr with a steel named “Mistilteinn” which is Old Norse for mistletoe [6].

Jupiter and Zeus too were associated with the oak trees and lightning [7]. The implant besides has grandness in the old Roman midwinter fete of Debauch, where it is emblematic of prolificacy. It was of enceinte grandness to the Druids, and Pliny the Age described in the 1st Hundred how the mistletoe was ceremonially harvested from oak groves at midwinter.

Lightning strikes and fires were often a more sober menace to households in multiplication retiring. Pit and brick were not victimised usually, with roofs covered with reed or chaff thatch. A ramble twinkle from the preparation reach could rather cursorily movement problems if left-hand untended to, and without our bodoni cognition of grounding thither was nil to protect a edifice if smitten by lightning. It was refine to circumstances or the testament of the gods.

Whatsoever the intent of this occult imbed, this fast festal ducky does not read any signaling of breach of favor any metre presently.

“The Mistletoe Bough” from the Nineteenth 100, tells the tarradiddle of a bride that was missed during games one Christmas. You can scan the lyrics hither . Be warned, it is not a felicitous carol!

Encourage Info

This clause specifically looks at the folklore, impost, and superstitions of mistletoe. Encourage articles are in the plant that view medicative uses, and the auctions among early things.

Therein serial:

– The Tenbury Mistletoe Fete & Home Mistletoe Day ; 1st December is formally Home Mistletoe Day in the UK. The Tenbury Mistletoe Fete is held on the offset weekend in December, in “England’s Mistletoe Uppercase”. Study some the Fete and the bequest of mistletoe therein clause.


[1] Sir James George Frazer, The Aureate Bough – ISBN – 978-1108047432

[2] William Coles, The Art of Simpling, or an Creation to the Noesis and Assemblage of Plants – ISBN – 978-1162628738

[3] Christian Rätsch, Heathen Christmas: The Plants, Booze, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide – ISBN – 978-1594770920

[4] Susan Drury, Folklore Cartridge, subject 98 (1987)

[5] Snorri Sturluson, Prose Taro – ISBN – 978-0140447552

[6] Saxo Grammaticus, Gesta Danorum – ISBN – 978-0859915021

[7] Rendel Harris, The Climb of Olympus – ISBN – 978-1116983579

With thanks to Karen Ply and Hedingham Sightly (go cheque their webpage , they let about pin-up art on thither purchasable!), and Gillian Metalworker.

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© 2014 Pollyanna Jones