The fun holiday tradition of kissing under the mistletoe evolved over time, and like most holiday customs, has pagan origins. Ancient Celtic druids saw the mistletoe blooming even in the middle of winter and thought it contained magical properties of vitality. Some sources claim they thought the mistletoe was the spirit of the tree showing signs of life while the rest of the tree remained dormant and dead-looking. They completely missed that it is a parasite living off of trees. Since they thought it had such amazing powers, they often conduct fertility and healing rituals underneath a bow of mistletoe, and later gathered underneath it to negotiate peace between hostile parties. Husbands and wives made up under the mistletoe as a way of sealing their renewed love and commitment to peace within the marriage.
Eventually, people moved sprigs of the plant inside. In some locales of Europe and Great Britain, guests kissed the hand of their host under a sprig of mistletoe as they arrived. Later, the working classes and poor classes developed a custom of a maiden standing under the mistletoe, waiting for a kiss from a young man–they were expected to marry within a year. English maidservants willing to accept a kiss from a gentleman in exchange for money stood underneath the mistletoe indicating her willingness. The practice of kissing under the mistletoe worked its way up to the upper classes, becoming more of a parlor game or an excuse for behavior not normally condoned among unmarried ladies and gentleman.
Today the custom of kissing under the mistletoe during the Christmas Season exists in most of Europe, Canada and America.
Mistletoe sometimes gets confused with holly but they are very different plants. Mistletoe (pictured above) has soft, pale green smooth leaves and white berries; holly (pictured to the right) has bright green ragged-edged leaves and red berries.
My bold and determined heroine in my newest book, The Suspect’s Daughter, does not need the help of mistletoe to kiss the man of her dreams, Grant Amesbury, to show him just how much he needs her.
The Suspect’s Daughter, book 4 of the award-winning Rogue Hearts Series is available now on Amazon. Order your copy today. It would make a great last-minute gift for any romance readers on your shopping list.