Fertility, murder or love?

Whether it is called the Christmas season, the festive season or the holiday season it generally is considered to begin in late November and end in early January. City streets, businesses and homes announce the season with decorations and lights, but even without illumination, pine trees, poinsettias and even the lowly mistletoe add their touch.

Since moving to a coastal area, it had been years since I had hung mistletoe in a doorway as part of my traditional decorations.

IMG_0826 (Edited) kissing ring

But this year a crafty group of Winter Texans led by an Oklahoma summer resident, created a mistletoe kissing ring. Of course, someone from Oklahoma would want mistletoe used during the Christmas season since it is their state floral emblem!

How would that be possible? Alice explained during the Dust Bowl years mistletoe was the only green plant to be seen in the countryside which led to the honored designation. Mistletoe is a parasitic plant which draws part of its nourishment from the host tree where it is attached. During the winter, the host tree goes dormant, but the mistletoe stays green. Throughout the ages, this ability to remain green on bare tree branches led to mistletoe’s inclusion in stories and as symbols such as:

  • Mistletoe’s white berries were considered as symbols of male fertility in pre-Christian cultures,
  • Mistletoe was used by Aeneas to enter the underworld in ancient Greek mythology,
  • An arrow of mistletoe wood was used by the blind god Hodur to murder his own twin brother in Norse mythology,
  • Romans associated mistletoe with peace, love and understanding,
  • The Western world began the practice of kissing under mistletoe used as a Christmas decoration in the Christian era, and
  • Mistletoe became part of Christmas celebrations around the world by the 18th century.

As the holiday season draws to a close for 2018 and we look forward to 2019, look for a hanging mistletoe decoration. Share a kiss with your special someone, a hug with a good friend but, most of all, think of the Romans’ belief.

During the year of 2019, let the mistletoe’s message of love and understanding lead each one of us in search of peace

in our personal life…

in our community…

in our nation.