Kissing under the mistletoe, why do we do it? Where did this habit come from? This old school Christmas tradition has been practiced worldwide for as long as we can remember, however few know where the origins of this eccentric holiday ritual really come from. Thankfully, LocalNomad is here to answer all your questions regarding how kissing under the mistletoe became such a widely practiced custom. Enjoy!
As the tradition goes, it is customary to hang a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling or above the entrance of a doorway. Anytime two people find themselves under the mistletoe they are supposed to kiss and then pick a berry from off the branches. This seemingly odd gesture is supposed to represent long lasting friendship, fertility and good luck in future marriage. People often forget but once all the berries have been removed you can no longer kiss under the mistletoe.
Folklore and History
Mistletoe has a long rich and folkloric history that laid the foundations for why and how we celebrate the custom today. To truly understand the historic origins behind this odd tradition we first need to understand the cultural importance and meaning behind the plant. According to European folklore mistletoe represents fertility due to its ability to reproduce as well as its capacity to remain evergreen on leafless, dormant hosts. The druids, dating back to Celtic times, believed this herb to be a sacred plant with healing qualities and the power to cure severe illnesses. It was most commonly used to combat infertility as well as poisons. The Scandinavians believed mistletoe to be a plant of peace and it was customary to have enemies declare a truce while standing underneath. Sometimes warring spouses would also kiss and make up underneath it as well. It is from these cultural practices that originated the idea that kissing under the mistletoe would bring health, fertility and betrothal to young couples.
The first records of people physically kissing underneath the mistletoe date back to the Greek Festival of Saturnalia. At Christmas time when a young lady would stand under mistletoe it was said she could not refuse a kiss or risked an entire year without marriage. The second noted record is around the 18th century when the English began hanging what they traditionally called a “kissing ball”, comprising a ball of mistletoe with ribbons and decorations, around the doors and dining table. Similarly to the Greeks and mistletoe, a woman could not refuse a kiss while standing beneath the kissing ball. They say if a young single lady received a kiss on the cheek then marriage would be sure to follow soon.Over time this tradition picked up so much international clout that it just became a generally accepted holiday custom, eventually becoming the tradition we know and love today. Now you know why and how kissing under the mistletoe has become such a longstanding Christmas tradition dating as far back as ancient Greece. So if you want to see a kissing ball in person this winter break and try your hand at true love, then don’t forget to book one of our fabulous London aparthotels. It’s sure to be the perfect place to find what you’re looking for!