THE HANGING OF GREENS – MISTLETOE
The hanging of greens, such as Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe is a British winter tradition with origins far before the Christian era.
Greenery was used to lift people's spirits during the long winter and remind them that spring was not far away.
For hundreds of years before the birth of Christ the ancient Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the winter solstice.
The Druids gathered the parasitic evergreen plant and used it to decorate their homes.
They had an affinity with nature and believed the plant to have special healing powers for a variety of ills from female infertility to poison ingestion.
The Scandinavians thought of mistletoe as a plant of peace and harmony and associated it with their goddess of love, Frigga which is why the Norse folk believe in the custom of kissing under the mistletoe and is believed to have derived from the association of Frigga.
The druids regarded the mistletoe as sacred and they made certain that it never touched the ground and it was dedicated to the Goddess of Love which is the Druid explanation of kissing under it.
Originally, when a boy kissed a girl, he plucked a berry from the cluster and presented it to her. When there were no more berries, there were no more kisses.
The custom of kissing under the mistletoe originally was a belief that the evergreen plant increases your sexual power or promotes fertility.
In a small number of places in the world its potency was so highly regarded that it could improve the productivity of the soil, it could make cattle more fertile and cure impotence in men and any girl who had not been kissed under the mistletoe would be barren.
The Druids believed mistletoe's magic extended far beyond fertility and they thought it could cure almost any disease and was therefore known as 'all healer'.
A sprig fixed above your doorway would protect from lightning and ward of evil from your home.
As the plant was a parasite and grew on other trees it had no roots and so it was believed that it grew from heaven.
Even the gathering of the mistletoe is steeped in ritual.
A Druid priest using a sacred sickle had to cut the mistletoe from an oak tree
On the sixth day of the new moon when he had done so a virgin girl had to catch the falling plant before it touched the ground.
If it touched the ground it was spoiled.
The early Christian church banned the use of mistletoe in Christmas celebrations because of its pagan origins and they favored the use of Holly as an appropriate substitute for the Christmas greenery conveniently forgetting pagan origins of Holly.
Nowadays mistletoe is used merely as an excuse for taking liberties at the office Christmas party.