The Mistletoe Tradition
Have you ever wondered where some of our modern traditions came from?
Mistletoe has been revered by certain cultures for many, many years. The ancient Celts of Britain felt that
mistletoe held sacred powers of healing, and that it contained the soul of the tree from which it was cut.
In the Celtic language, mistletoe means "all heal".
The Druids also had an
interesting ceremony that included mistletoe. The
pagan priests of the time would carefully cut boughs
of mistletoe from the sacred oak tree with a golden
sickle. They were careful not to let the boughs touch
the ground, for fear of contaminating them. The
priests then divided these boughs into sprigs, and
gave them to the people to protect them from storms
and other forms of evil.
Mistletoe has also been included in many famous myths
from earlier times.
The Norse myth is that of the resurrection of Balder,
the god of the summer sun. The myth states, that
Balder had a dream in which he dies. His mother
Frigga, the goddess of beauty and love, was rather
alarmed by this. Frigga went to all elements: air,
fire, water, and earth, and asked that they spare her
son. When she was satisfied that she had secured
their cooperation, she informed Balder that he would
Balder had one enemy, though. Loki, the god of evil,
discovered one plant that Frigga had overlooked. That
plant was mistletoe. Loki fashioned an arrow made
from the branch of the mistletoe, and dipped it in
poison. He then tricked Balder’s blind brother,
Hoder, into firing it and killing Balder. Each of the
elements tried to bring Balder back to life, but none
were successful. His mother, Frigga's tears turned
into the berries from the mistletoe, and when they
rained upon Balder they brought him back to life.
In her joy at Balder’s resurrection, she reversed
the poisonous reputation of the mistletoe and kissed
everyone who walked beneath the tree on which it
grew. She also issued a decree that anyone passing
under the mistletoe must kiss, and therefore no harm
would come to them.