In the 18th century Mistletoe was included in Christmas celebrations around the world. The serving class of Victorian England is credited with first recording the tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe. The tradition dictated that a man was allowed to kiss any woman standing underneath mistletoe, and that bad luck in love would befall any woman who refused the kiss.
One variation on the "mistletoe tradition" was that with each kiss a berry had to be plucked from the mistletoe, and the kissing must stop after all the berries had been removed.
Mistletoe comes in different forms
Not all mistletoe has the festive holiday look we are used to. Some broadleaf mistletoe has green stems with oval-shaped leaves and small, sticky, whitish berries. Dwarf mistletoe is smaller, with scaly yellow leaves. Other forms have no leaves at all, and some look like a dense bundle of twigs stuck in the branches of another tree.
Mistletoe is also a desert plant
European mistletoe grows in temperate regions all over the world. There are also several species in America that thrive in the deserts in the Southwest, where they live on palo verde, mesquite, juniper, pine and other trees.
Mistletoe has medicinal properties
Despite its dangers, mistletoe has a history of medicinal use. The European varieties have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat seizures, headaches, infertility, hypertension and arthritis.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, mistletoe injections are available only in clinical trials in the U.S., but are available by prescription in Europe, where the plant is used as a treatment for cancer.
Mistletoe has a few names
Mistletoe is also known as birdlime, all-heal, golden bough, drudenfuss, iscador and devil's fuge.
Mistletoe Christmas Songs
Did you also know there have been quite a few Christmas songs about mistletoe:
- Justine Bieber
- Mariah Carey
- Bing Crosby
- Brenda Lee
- Nat King Cole
Shopping for Mistletoe