why do we kiss under the mistletoe

makes its appearance each December as millions of Americans and Europeans hang a of it in their doorways during the holiday season. According to custom, if a woman is caught standing under the, a man may kiss her. So what is it about this little plant that gives it its power to make people up? For,
has been considered a plant that increases life and. Celtic Druids living in the 1st century A. D. viewed it as a symbol of vivacity, since it remained green while other plants were bare during winter. Some historians believe the connection between and a kiss comes from ancient mythology. According to happier versions of the legend, Baldur (sometimes spelled Baldr or Balder) was killed by an enemy's arrow made of. His mother, the goddess Frigg, wept tears onto the arrow. Her tears turned into white berries that she placed onto Baldur's wound, bringing him back to life. Overjoyed, Frigg blessed the plant and promised a kiss to all who passed beneath it.

Although the legend of Baldur is often cited as the origin of the connection between and a kiss, other historians point out that many versions of Baldur's story end quite differently. In these other versions, Baldur dies and is not revived. Given the age of these myths, it's certainly possible that happier versions were passed down over time, influencing future traditions. traditions have certainly evolved over time. For example, in ancient times, visitors would kiss the hand of a under the when they arrived. Since then, traditions have grown a bit more personal. Today, any couple caught standing underneath the should prepare to up! So what, exactly, is? The far-from-romantic answer is that it's a plant, which means it depends on another plant for survival. can only grow if its seeds are carried to a Б " tree by birds that have eaten berries.

Typically, a bird will squeeze a berry in its beak, squishing out a sticky, coated seed. The bird eats the fruit and cleans the sticky coating, called "," off its beak by wiping it against a nearby branch. As the hardens, the seed becomes firmly attached to the tree. The then invades the, Бstealing" nutrients and water from it. In fact, the scientific name for American (Phoradendron) is Greek for Бthief of the tree. " More fun facts about : Birds can eat berries, but they're highly to humans. Approximately 20 species of can be found on the list. Celtic Druids believed that contained the spirit of the tree in which it grew; this was the only part of the tree that stayed green all winter. By Chris Gayomali The history of mistletoe, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, is long, strange, and full of contradictions. Certain varieties are poisonous, for starters, and ingesting their toxic white berries has been known to cause a host of stomach problems (some poison control centers send out " " fliers every year).

Yet Hippocrates used other types of mistletoe to treat menstrual pains, and it's been enlisted to fight leprosy, infertility, epilepsy, and even cancer. (Recent research suggests an extract might evenP. ) Then there's the plant's semi-parasitic nature. Mistletoe, a relative of sandalwood, attaches itself onto other trees to steal its host's water and nutrients. Unlike sandalwood, however, mistletoe seeds are dispersed by berry-eating birds, which allows the plant to grow on branches high above the shade, freeloading on other trees' sunlight. Mistletoe has been called a symbol of virility. According toP Smithsonian Magazine, its seeds are coated in aP that allows them to stick to tree branches once dispersed by birds allowing a new mistletoe plant to dig into the host tree and begin to take shape.

Why, then, do we kiss each other under bunches of the devious, toxic plant every Christmas? The common explanation says that early Christians integrated mistletoe into their celebrations as the religion spread across third-century Europe. The rationale predates the early Christians and goes back to the Norse god Baldur second son of Odin, god of truth and light who was so beloved by the other gods that they sought to protect him from all the dangers of the world. His mother,P, "took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds and creeping things, that they would not hurt Baldur. " And thus the beautiful god was deemed invincible. What does this have to do with mistletoe?

Bear with us. At a large gathering soon after, stones, arrows, and flame were all flung at BaldurPto test his might. Nothing worked, and he walked away unscathed. PJealous of Baldur'sPnew powers, the mischievousP set out to find the one thing on Earth that might be able to hurt him. He found that the goddessPFrigg forgot to ask mistletoe tiny and forgotten not to harm her beloved son. In the end, a dart fashioned from the little plant was used to murderPBaldur in front of all the other gods who loved him so dearly. Frigg, of course, was devastated. P Vancouver Sun explains that the tears of Baldur's mother became the berries of the plant, and it was decreed thatP"mistletoe would never again be used as a weapon and that she would place a kiss on anyone who passed under it. " And thus we hang mistletoe underneath our doorways come the holidays so that we never overlook it again.