Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mistletoe

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Mistletoe grows wild around here. It is one of those "traditional" Christmas images that are actually ancient Pagan symbols. Mistletoe fruits at the winter solstice, and like the evergreen tree and the holly, it promises that the world will not remain a cold, lifeless place, and that spring will come again. Mistletoe is described as hemi-parasitic. We first noticed the large spheres it formed in the upper branches of oak trees, but it took us a while to figure out what the spheres were.

In Norse Mythology, every living creature was asked to promise not to injure the beloved god Baldr, but the mistletoe was thought to be too puny, or weak, or young, or unimportant to make such a vow. The trickster god Loki got wind of this, and made an arrow (or spear) out of mistletoe. Because Baldr was deemed impervious to harm, the gods amused themselves by throwing dangerous items at him, and laughing at the lack of harm they inflicted. (Don't try this at home, kids!) Loki slipped the little mistletoe into the hand of Baldr's blind brother Höðr, who unwittingly slew his brother. Baldr's death started the chain of events that lead to Ragnarok, the war of the gods, which eventually brought about the end and re-birth of the world.

Apparently, if two ancient Scandinavian warriors met in a forest, they were directed by custom to observe a one-day truce. This tradition of friendly forest fellowship eventually formed into the custom of kissing under the mistletoe.

So why don't you print out this blog post (or just lift your laptop computer over your head) and get a free kiss, courtesy of Robb and Lisa?

Happy Holiday, Y'all!

4 comments:

Gina said...

I actually have a copy of this pinned to the cork board behind my desk and every year, if I can't get some wild mistletoe on the shore, I pin it up in the door frame! Thanks for the permanent kiss-getter! It's still one of my favorites...

Anonymous said...

Norse Religion. What is the mythology part?

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

From my point of view, myths are the *stories* that make up religions.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to gods, I think americans should stick with the local ones, and hang out with mother nature and the great spirit, instead of all those artificial, imported gods from other continents, with foreign spiritual baggage.

Annalisa

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