Clint took a step closer to her. Goodness, why hadn’t she noticed how warm the room was behind that curtain? She didn’t like being so close to him either, but for some reason she didn’t move away.
“Look above your head,” he said.
Rachel looked up and saw a sprig of mistletoe tied to a ceiling fan with a long piece of red yarn.
“That’s mistletoe, Rachel.”
“So? I imagine the high school kids tied it there so they could steal kisses.”
Why do we do it? Kiss people under the mistletoe, I mean. We don’t kiss people under holly or ivy or any other plant I can think of, so why mistletoe? Actually, there are a lot of reasons why.
Since ancient times, mistletoe figured prominently in European folklore. The ancient Druids considered it to be a sacred plant. They thought it could cure illness, serve as an antidote to poisons, and protect you against witches. People often hung it from the ceiling to prevent witches or evil spirits from entering the house. Better yet, mistletoe was thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Kissing under the mistletoe comes from traditions in several different places. The Greeks loved mistletoe. They used it in all their festival and weddings. If a couple who were in love exchanged a kiss under the mistletoe, it was the same thing as a proposal. It also predicted happiness for the couple.
The Anglo-Saxons associated mistletoe with Freya, the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. According to their tradition, a man had to kiss any girl he found standing under the mistletoe which hung from the ceiling. Every time a man kissed her, he took a berry from the bunch. When the last berry vanished, the kissing had to stop.
In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace. If two enemies met under the mistletoe, they had to declare a truce until the next day. This applied to warring spouses too.
It’s also interesting to know how the plant got its name. People noticed that mistletoe often grew where birds had pooped on tree branches. Mistel is the Anglo-Saxon word for dung, and tan is the word for twig, so mistletoe really means dung on a twig. (Too much information?)
Be careful not to eat mistletoe, though. Contrary to what the Druids believed it isn’t a cure for disease, and people have been known to get really sick from eating it or drinking mistletoe tea. However, nobody ever died from a kiss under the mistletoe, so kiss away!
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Oh, in case you’re wondering, the little snippet at the top of the article is from my yet-to-be released novel The Sentence.
About the Author: Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She holds a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America and EPIC authors. Her first novel, A New Leaf, was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Books. At present she teaches high school social studies. She spends her spare time collecting vintage Christmas ornaments, reading, and playing with her grandchildren.