With the festive season in full swing, we thought that we could use our normal fun fact Friday slot for some yuletide titbits. Throughout the Christmas period, we follow many traditions that we’ve all loved and enjoyed for as long as we can remember. But when you take a step back and look at these traditions, you have to wonder why we do these weird and wonderful gestures and where do they originate from.
Let’s start with kissing under the mistletoe. Many a Christmas song has sung about it and you’ll find this vegetation hanging up within many houses across the country. It can make a wonderful decoration, bringing a piece of nature into your home. But why, if we are caught standing underneath a piece of it are we expected to pucker up?
The origins of this tradition can be dated back well before the arrival of Christmas as a celebration. It even pre dates the first Christians, several millenniums, all the way back to the ancient Greeks. The story goes that the Norse god Baldur, the second son of Odin, was so beloved by all the other gods that his mother, Frigg, made an oath that nothing in the world could harm him; the elements, creatures and sickness. After this, they had a large gathering where everyone threw all sorts of projectiles at Baldur to test these new powers. And as expected, nothing left even a scratch.
But his brother, Loki, was jealous of the attention and affection Baldur receiuved from the other gods. So went to search for the one small thing that had been forgotten when the oath was made; mistletoe. With this, he created a dart from mistletoe, which he fired at Baldur and exterminated him. This devastated Frigg, of course. So she decreed that mistletoe would never be used as a weapon again and that she would kiss anyone who passed underneath it.
So there you have it. Over time, this has evolved and been adopted within Christmas celebrations. With the festive period being a time of love and happiness, it seems very fitting, and a wonderful way of helping people to express this.
Have you heard another origin story relating to this? Do you have any other festive traditions that you would like us to find their origins for? Leave your comments below.