The Origins of Mistletoe

Mistletoe, a Christmas decoration with an interesting tradition tied to it, is a staple in holiday homes. Although associated with the Christian holiday, its origin as a decoration is widely debated 

In the US there are a number of interesting Christmas traditions. Among these is the tradition of kissing under mistletoe, which has many possible origins. (Tobias Tulluis)

Kissing under the mistletoe is a commonly known Christmas tradition. The tradition is one of the many holiday traditions that are common practice but has no bearing on the holiday itself or any religious significance. 

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on different species of trees and can cause disease in these trees according to 

The origins of using mistletoe as decoration are unknown, but there are a few different ideas that hypothesize its origins, mostly from hundreds of years ago. 

In ancient Greece, mistletoe had many different uses. From treating menstrual cramps to being used as a healing balm, it was a common remedy. In Greek society, kissing under mistletoe became a tradition for the winter holiday of Kronia, although it is unclear how kissing under mistletoe became popular, according to 

Its healing properties were noted in Celtic culture as well, where it was eventually romanticized due to its ability to blossom in the winter. 

Higher ranking members of Celtic society viewed mistletoe as a symbol of renewed fertility and resilience. This is when people began to use the plant as a decoration. 

There is also a popular story in Norse mythology that explains another possible origin of mistletoe as a decoration. As Norse legend goes, the god Baldur was killed by an arrow of mistletoe. After which, his mother, the goddess Figg, declared that as long as mistletoe was not used as a weapon, it would kiss anyone who walked under it. 

Despite its origins as a decoration, its origins as a Christmas decoration stem from the Middle Ages, where it was put up as a symbol of fertility. It is believed that the kissing part of the tradition is from poor servants kissing under the mistletoe and caught on when the idea that if a woman was standing under the mistletoe, a man could kiss her according to an article from