The History of Mistletoe
Mistletoe is a hemiparasitic evergreen. "Hemiparastic" means that mistletoe relies on the host tree for moisture and minerals but it is able to photosynthesise its own sugars. It usually
grows on deciduous trees, never on evergreens.
The Eurasian Viscum album is most abundant on apple trees, poplars,
willows and sometimes, in the Amersham area, hawthorns. It is rarely found on oaks.
The history of mistletoe:
The fact that mistletoe stays green on otherwise apparently
dormant trees in wintertime is thought to have caught the eyes of the
Celts and the Druids, who venerated the mistletoe, especially that found
on oaks. The Druids were thought to have cut the mistletoe ceremonially
from their sacred oaks with a golden knife. It was widely held to cure
sterility and counteract poisons.
Kissing under the mistletoe :
In eighteenth-century England at Christmas time a young lady standing
under some mistletoe, brightly trimmed with evergreens, ribbons, and ornaments,
could not refuse to be kissed. Such a kiss could mean deep romance or
lasting friendship and goodwill. But if the girl remained unkissed, she
could not expect to marry during the following year. In some parts of
England the Christmas mistletoe is burned on twelfth night; if the mistletoe
was not burned, legend has it that all the boys and girls that had kissed
under it would never marry.
Whether we believe the stories or not, mistletoe always makes for fun
and frolic at Christmas celebrations. Even if the pagan significance of
mistletoe has been long forgotten, the custom of exchanging a kiss under
the mistletoe can still be found in many European countries as well as
in North America.
Whilst we here at Christmas Tree Farm, Chesham sell fresh mistletoe, we cannot offer guarantees that hanging mistletoe
in your house at Christmas-time will work!