Traditions: Kissing Under the Mistletoe

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Nothing would get you warmer than a sweet kiss at Christmas and it makes it even more especial if you’re under the mistletoe. But, where does this tradition comes from? Let’s find it out.

The legend of the mistletoe and the kiss go back to the 1st century A.D. with the Celtic Druids and the Norse mythology. It was considered a symbol of love, friendship, life and fertility. The latter due to its vivacity and ability of remaining green during winter. It represents the rebirth of vegetation in spring.

However, why a kiss? Historians believe the tradition of the kiss comes from the myth of Baldur’s death. Baldur, Baldr or Balder was a Norse deity, son of Odin and Frigg. He was loved by all beings from nature and by all the gods. He was extremely handsome, full with joy and he radiated light.

Baldur began to have dreams about his own death and his mother Frigg talked to every creature and thing in creation to secure his son’s life. She made them take an oath to not harm Baldur. Nevertheless, she overlooked the mistletoe for being too small and apparently harmless. It was when the mischievous god Loki, took this opportunity and created a spear made of mistletoe and convinced the blind god Hodr to throw it at Baldur and the god died.

There are different versions of what happened next, the main version says that Baldur died and the god Hermódr had the mission of going to Hel -in the Norse underworld- and bring the god back. The goddess of the underworld accepted under one condition: every last thing in the world had to weep for Baldur. The problem was that Loki, disguised as another living thing, refused.

It is said that people began to kiss underneath the mistletoe in memory of Baldur. Another version says that Baldur came back from death thanks to the tears of his mother that went down to his wound and they turned into white berries. The goddess blessed the mistletoe and promised a kiss to all who passed under this magical plant.

The tradition evolved over time, people used to kiss and pick a berry until all the berries were gone and the power of giving good luck and making people kiss vanished. Nowadays, people simply kiss when they realize they are under it. Although the plant is actually a parasite which cannot grow without a host, it is believed that the plant brings good luck to the household and wards off evil spirits.

What do you think about this lovely tradition? Which traditions do you do on this Christmas season?

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