My mother always had mistletoe hanging in the house at Christmas, and I have to admit, it’s been years since I purchased any. I might have to change that this year. We've probably all heard of a kid that ate a berry or two and didn’t die, and birds do eat the berries—yet the plant is poisonous, so do be cautious of it around animals and children. There are several varieties, and all should be treated with respect, though not avoided. Handling it is fine. It’s digestion of the leaves themselves that is harmful—from what I read.
Here’s a bit more about mistletoe.
It is a parasite plant that needs another plant to grow, often times a tree due to the fact birds love Mistletoe berries and after eating them usual fly ‘home’ to sit on a tree branch, where they leave droppings that contain seeds. Within six weeks those seeds can become a plant, however it will take five years before it blooms, which can be a variety of colors, from red to yellow and green, with either white or red waxy berries. Mistletoe is easy to spot in winter because its leathery leaves stay green.
Mistletoe has been claimed to be many things: magical, can heal wounds, increase fertility, ward off evil spirits, bring good luck, an aphrodisiac, and a symbol of peace.
It even has its own etiquette—A man is to remove a berry after kissing a women. When all the berries are gone, there is no more kissing under that plant.
A few myths: Married couples who kiss under the mistletoe are assured good luck, those who refuse- bad luck, and a maiden who isn’t kissed under the mistletoe will remain single for another year.
A maiden who places a sprig of mistletoe under her pillow will dream of her Prince Charming. Also burning a sprig of mistletoe will foresee a woman’s happiness. A full flames means a happy, long lasting marriage, a smoldering weak flame means she’ll marry a fool.
It’s also just fun, which is how I used it in Christmas with Her Cowboy, a story in the Christmas Cowboy Kisses anthology.
A short mistletoe snippet from Anna and Tanner's story:
Whatever medicine the Doc brought home for Lamont Key’s son must have worked, because the kid was at the party, too. He and a couple other boys his age, fifteen or so, were running around with sprigs of green, claiming it was mistletoe and holding it over people’s heads. Kent Key held it over Anna’s head right now, and she was laughing.
She and John stopped dancing and after nodding to the crowd, Anna puckered her lips for John to kiss.
Tanner’s jaw twitched as he watched the man take Anna’s shoulders and kiss her, longer than necessary. The crowd whooped and clapped as they broke apart, and Tanner considered turning away when Anna’s eyes found his. Instead, he held her gaze for a moment, wishing he could read her mind. Guilt at kissing her, the way he had yesterday was playing havoc inside him, and mixed with the desires now closer to the surface. He was about as twisted as he’d ever been.
A commotion surrounding him pulled his eyes away and he found Kent holding the sprig over Rosalie’s head. She’d already closed her eyes and pursed her lips much like Anna had done for John.
As much as he didn’t want to, Tanner couldn’t not kiss her, so he leaned forward and placed a tiny peck on her lips.
The crowd groaned with disappointment, and John, still beaming and receiving pats on his back for the way he’d kissed Anna, yelled, “You call that a kiss?”
That didn’t get to him as much as how Anna slapped John on the front of his shoulder. Tanner gestured for Kent to hold the sprig over Rosalie’s head again, and this time, he took her in both arms. Bending her over backwards, he kissed her until the crowd cheered.
“Oh, my,” Rosalie muttered when he stood her on her feet again.
The crowd cheered again. The kiss had done nothing for Tanner, not like the one in the barn last night. When he lifted his head, already regretting what he’d just done, he expected a glare from Anna, but all he saw was the back of her green dress as she left the room.
Merry Christmas to all!