Friday, 7 December 2012


From the earliest times mistletoe has been considered one of the most magical, mysterious and sacred of plants. In European folklore it was thought to give life and fertility, to be an aphrodisiac and to protect against poison.

The ancient Celtic Druids elevated Mistletoe to sacred powers, even using it in ceremonies of human sacrifice. Because of the Druids' use of mistletoe, Christians banned its use in their churches in England. Mistletoe grows primarily on apple, lime, poplar and hawthorn trees in the midlands and up to and around York, it was a local favorite there long after the Druids were in decline. So in the famous minster at York, its use during the Christmas season has always been retained. The Dean of York Minster still hangs a bunch of mistletoe and holly from the High Altar at noon on Christmas Eve.

The current tradition of hanging mistletoe in the doorway to receive a kiss comes from a combination of myths from the Druids, ancient Celts and Vikings. It also occurs in Roman and Greek mythology.

The list of credits for this plant is endless. So much more surprising when you consider the plant itself is a hemiparasite or partial parasite. 

It grows on the branches or trunk of a tree and actually sends its roots down into the tree thus taking nutrients from the host plant.

Mistletoe is now big business in the UK around Christmas time. Here in France we don't see much of it sold commercially but we do see plenty growing in our local woods and as we travel about the region. All the photographs here have been taken locally.

 And, yes, we have got a sprig with berries on to adorn our doorway this Christmas...
Well, it would be a great pity for these traditions to die out, wouldn't it??!

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