Mistletoe Is Poop on a Twig
My family and I are thinking about making our Santa phone calls early this year. Our Santa calls are always a special part of our family’s holiday tradition. We like to follow our little traditions and I would bet that your family has some traditions of its own. Have you ever followed the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe? Mistletoe is a Christmas time plant that we hang in a doorway and everyone who meets under it is supposed to kiss. It is considered rude and unlucky if you do not. However, mistletoe was not always as popular as it is now. In fact, the very name of it is surprising for being something that would inspire a kiss. Mistletoe actually means poop-stick or poop-twig.
Mistletoe does not grow in the ground. Mistletoe grows in the tops of trees. It spreads its roots under the trees bark and drinks all the nutrients that the tree has up there. The funny thing is, how does mistletoe get way up there in the sky and on the top of trees? It does not just grow out of thin air. Mistletoe is spread, like a virus and acts like a parasite. A bird will eat a mistletoe berry and then fly away. Later, when the bird is high in the sky, it will poop and the poop lands in the tree. The poop acts as dirt and the mistletoe, which is really named “Misteltan,” will grow out of the poop. When it first sprouts, it just looks like a twig. The Anglo-Saxton word from which mistletoe comes is Mistel, which means poop, and tan, which means twig. Mistletoe is poop twig. The exact phrase would be, poop on a twig.
I would bet that you are wondering why people kiss under the mistletoe. That is a very interesting question. It comes from Norse mythology. Frigga was the Norse god of love and beauty and the mother of Baldur. When Baldur, the god of sun and summer was born, his mother asked all of the animals and all of the plants not to harm Baldur so that he would live forever and the summer son would always come. The problem was that there was an angry and mischievous god named Loki and he did not like Baldur.
Loki knew that Frigga had asked all the plants not to hurt Baldur but she had overlooked the mistletoe. So Baldur made an arrow with the poison of the mistletoe and tricked one of Baldur’s friends, who was blind, into shooting the arrow and it killed Baldur. Frigga was so sad that her son had died that she cried for three days. When Baldur died, he took the summer son with him and it was dark for three days. The world was plunged into winter without the sun. Frigga asked all the animals and all the plants to bring back her son but none of them could.
Frigga’s tears were so powerful that they were shed on the earth and brought Baldur back from the grave. With Baldur’s new life, the sun came back and brought the life back to the summer world again. Frigga was so happy to have her son back that she pronounced the mistletoe sacred and that anyone who walks under it should kiss from that day forward. The world was happy to comply.
The one thing that people forget about kissing under the mistletoe is that they should only kiss under the mistletoe with berries on it. When a boy and a girl meet under the mistletoe, they kiss and then the boy picks one berry off. When there are no more berries on the mistletoe, the kissing rights are gone.