Tuesday, December 7

The Hanging of the Mistletoe

The little berries of the Mistletoe plant, renowned for their healing powers (used in salves and ointments), became a medieval symbol of God’s provision and grace. Even when the vast northern forests were buried in deep snows and the hardwood trees had lost all their foliage, the Mistletoe continued to bloom—to offer its medicine of hope to the afflicted and the needy. Often, families would decorate their doorways with little sprigs of the plant as reminders of providential love. It became a happy ritual for lovers to kiss beneath the sprigs as a kind of covenantal affirmation of their fealty in the sight of God. A single berry was to be plucked from the sprig for each kiss. Often the bare sprigs were kept as testimony to the couples’ vows. Sometime in about the tenth century or so, the hanging of the Mistletoe became an Advent and Christmas tradition.

1 comment:

Lawrence Underwood said...

I learn some new thing about Christmas traditions each year from your posts! I was just wondering the other day what it would be this year.

I've got to go shoot down some mistletoe from the oak out back now. . .