Having a kiss under the mistletoe has long been a Christmas tradition. And like many traditions this practice harks back to pagan times.
The native British species, “Viscum album” grow on a variety of trees but most significantly the oak tree. To the Druids the mistletoe had a special significance. It could only be cut with a gold sickle and caught in a white robe – it could not fall to the ground and thus profaning it. In some traditions the sprig was placed above thresholds to deter evil spirits; in others it was administered to cattle as an elixir.
But what of kissing, where does this tradition come from? Well, according to pagan Nordic folklore, Loki – the evil god – tricked the blind god Hodr into killing Balder with a bow and arrow. All the trees and flowers, however, took an oath that they would not be party to such a plan. The mistletoe, however, being neither tree nor flower, didn’t swear the oath and it was from the stem of the mistletoe that Loki made his arrow shaft. And to this day to kiss under the mistletoe is to cock a snook at the evil Loki.