Kissing under the lucky mistletoe: European tradition

Kissing under the mistletoe is a very widespread custom.

Every year, thousands of us hang a branch of mistletoe on our door, waiting for couples to pass under it. In stores, on the street, or even in the living rooms of our loved ones: we find them everywhere...

But do we know the message behind the lucky mistletoe branches?

How many of us have ever wondered where this habit comes from?

Aside from its use as a Christmas decoration, what exactly do we know about this plant?

We asked ourselves these questions and therefore began some research. The information we found may surprise some. Others, by family tradition or because they are already interested in the subject, will already know them.

In short, here we go!

Let’s take an interest in the mistletoe tradition together!

Contents :

Mistletoe from a botanical point of view

The mistletoe tradition is very old!

Kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas

Lucky mistletoe that grows among the thorns of a fir tree.

Mistletoe from a botanical point of view

Wishing each other the New Year under the mistletoe is a well-known tradition. Receiving the best wishes from our loved ones is always a pleasure, and an omen of a happy new year... But in fact, what could this famous plant be?

Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant, living on the branches of a host tree.

Although it can benefit from photosynthesis through its own leaves, it gets the majority of its energy from the sap of the tree it hangs from.

Among the best-known tree species, we can cite:

  • The Apple tree
  • The lime tree
  • Hawthorn
  • The poplar
  • The weeping willow

You should also know that lucky mistletoe grows very slowly. During the first year, it will simply develop a connection with the host tree's root system by literally digging through its bark and "fusing" its sap with that of the tree.

It is only in the second year that the leaves of the mistletoe will begin to grow. Finally, it will be more of a small shoot with a simple pair of leaves than anything else...

As things stand, it will be complicated to say the least to kiss under the mistletoe!

It is only from the third year that more branches and leaves will appear and it will take the shape that we know so well.

Small berries also grow on this plant. White in color, many birds like to eat it, and they are wrong.

Despite an apparently tasty taste, these berries contain a type of sap that is very sticky and indigestible. Once inside the stomach, it forms a glue that causes irritation and disrupts digestion.

This is actually the mistletoe's reproductive strategy: it attracts birds with seemingly tempting berries which, once in the poor animals' beaks, will irritate them, causing them to drop them a little further away.

Thus, the seeds contained in the berries can spread throughout the forest.

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The mistletoe tradition is very old!

The mistletoe tradition is fascinating. It carries with it wishes of happiness, good resolutions and the atmosphere of the end of year celebrations.

Deeply steeped in folklore throughout Europe, there are hundreds of myths and legends that involve mistletoe. From one region to another, these stories can vary but certain points remain common to all.

Generally, lucky mistletoe will be associated with luck, health but especially fertility.

The Druids of the Celtic peoples who once dominated Europe also used it in great rituals which aimed to scare away a particular spirit or demonic force. (According to some experts, this is where our tradition of hanging a branch of mistletoe on our door could come from.)

In fact, lucky mistletoe was so important in ancient times that seeing it in dreams could be interpreted as a terrible sign... so much so that battles were canceled and weddings postponed.

It is notably about a legend which tells us how two enemy clans sealed peace after seeing mistletoe pushing us away from the battlefield. Truly, this plant was important to our ancestors!

Due to its persistent nature, mistletoe was also associated with fertility. Indeed, while the leaves of its host tree fall in winter, mistletoe retains its magnificent green color.

Sometimes, in the space of just one night, it can take on a luscious golden hue (in reality, this is a sign that it is lacking certain minerals), making the scene even more magical.

In short, for men, the tradition of lucky mistletoe reminds us of this extraordinary gift of nature, bringing health and fertility...

Rather surprising for a plant that is known to be toxic, don't you think?

Branch of mistletoe hanging from the lamp post of a town in England.

Kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas

There is no Christmas without that smell of fresh pine needles that invades the house, without those delicious cookies that we eat together and without… the branch of lucky mistletoe hanging on our door!

The Christmas celebration is undoubtedly one of the traditions most dear to the hearts of Europeans. Just before the New Year, this Christian festival and its New Year's Eve are the place for exchanges of smiles, fireworks and hearty meals.

Initially a purely Christian tradition aimed at celebrating the coming of the Messiah into the world, it was only later that the tree and gifts began to enter our homes.

According to several historians, the first versions of this holiday as we know it today began appearing in Germany more than 500 years ago.

More recently, in 19th century England, came the tradition of kissing under mistletoe.

Without anyone knowing why, men began to kiss their beloved under this Christmas plant.

Even though the tradition still persists today, we now ask permission before kissing our neighbor... Unless, like back then, you want to marry her!

Indeed, the tradition of mistletoe was sometimes taken to the extreme and complete strangers passing together found themselves having to marry and start a family, pushed by their respective families who saw this as an opportunity to “settle” them..

Rather incredible situation!

Apparently, this custom of kissing under mistletoe comes from Nordic folklore where our plant was associated with love and youthful romances.

Nowadays, legend has it that if you refuse a kiss when you pass under the mistletoe, great misfortune could happen to you.

Once this is done, you should also remember to pick one of its berries : once they are all gone, the mistletoe will no longer have any effect and you will be able to pass freely under it.

So, if you decide to hang a branch of mistletoe on your door this year, make sure it contains as many berries as possible!

author picture(Cyril Gendarme)

Discover the author: Cyril Gendarme

Cyril Gendarme is a writer whose website "The Lucky Door" ("La Porte Du Bonheur" in French, his native language) has become a reference in the field of esotericism. Born in Belgium, Cyril has been attracted to the mysteries of the world since he was a child. When his interest in occultism was awakened, a particular subject caught his attention: lucky charms.

After years of study and in-depth research on esoteric traditions from around the world, Cyril decided to share his knowledge with the public through the internet. In 2019, he launched "The Lucky Door," a website dedicated to exploring lucky charms, magical symbols, and esoteric arts.

The Lucky Door is much more than just a showcase for those curious about magic, divination, or tradition. It is the result of Cyril's passion for researching and understanding the mysteries of the universe. Every piece of information available on the site testifies to his dedication to sharing his knowledge of the most hidden symbols and their unique powers.

In addition to his online work, Cyril regularly organizes workshops and conferences in different countries. His presence on social media is also highly appreciated, where he offers personalized advice and happily answers questions from his community.