When I think of Mistletoe, I imagine a woman in an old fashion dress, being caught under the mistletoe, reluctantly submitting to a kiss. Tradition states that a man is allowed to kiss any woman standing beneath a sprig of Mistletoe, and vice versa. But If a kiss is refused, bad luck befalls the person who said no. A girl would fear she would end up an old maid If she refused a kiss. But there is little known about why we practice this tradition.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant with green leaves, greenish yellow flowers, and pink, red or white berries. Clumps of mistletoe are often seen growing in trees in the winter months of warmer climates. Birds eat the berries and drop the seeds spreading them from tree to tree. The seeds stick to the tree burrowing their roots into the bark sucking nutrients and water from its new host. This host tree often suffers from lack of nutrients and water and dies, thus leaving the mistletoe plant with the same deficiencies and the same fate.
In Norse mythology Balder the son of the chief god Odin and his wife Frigg. Was beautiful and just, and the favorite of the gods. Balder had lucid dreams which seemed to forbid his death. So the gods held a council and decided to make Balder safe against all danger. The goddess Frigg had the fire, water, metals, stones ,earth, trees, four-footed beasts, birds, sicknesses and poisons, swear that they would not hurt him. This made Balder invincible. They say the gods amused themselves by throwing objects at him, knowing that he was immune from harm. They were glad about it. All except Loki, a trickster god, known for being neither fully good nor evil. But for the chaos he creates. Loki went to Frigg disguised as an old women and said that the weapons of the gods could not hurt Balder and asked if all things have sworn to spare him. She said there is a plant called mistletoe to young to swear. So Loki went and tricked a blind god named Hother into killing him with an arrow made of mistletoe. This saddened the gods and they wept. Frigg got the gods to bring Balder back to life and Mistletoe vowed to kiss anyone who passed beneath so long as it was never again used as a weapon.
Kissing under mistletoe is also said to go back to the pagan festival of Saturnalia, In ancient times, They believed mistletoe could perform miracles and associated it with fertility and vivacity. Because the plant stayed green and blossomed in the harsh winters.
We celebrate Christmas similar to how they celebrated the festival of Saturnalia. With decorating our homes with greenery and candles, feasting and exchanging gifts. And as it seems kissing under the mistletoe.