With all that has been happening this year, I think everyone can use a little holiday cheer. If you’re interested in what it’s like to experience Christmas in the bayou (a.k.a., Louisiana) or missed my last week’s post, check out Papa Noël: Who Dat? Find out if you’re on the naughty or nice list and meet the gators.
Over my many years and dozens of Christmas parties, I’ve seen (and participated in) countless traditions. However, the one that I’ve heard and read about the most is one that I have never seen in practice—that is, kissing under the mistletoe. A couple of years ago was the first time I saw mistletoe in person. Well, kinda. See, I’d seen it before, but I didn’t know what it was. Turns out, there was plenty that I did not know about mistletoe. This was brought to the forefront when I began writing my short story “Valentine Mistletoe“ (published In Holiday Heartbreaker’s Cupid’s Bow Anthology), which is a holiday story with a twist. Since this is the season, I thought it would be fun to post some mistletoe trivia facts, and there’s no better place to start than the beginning…
- The name “mistletoe” originates from the combination of two Anglo Saxon words—mistle and tan. The word mistle means a stick or a twig, while the word tan means—hold onto your socks—dung. That’s correct. Dung, as in poop, manure, excrement, caca. So, literally, mistletoe means poop on a stick. Now, that image doesn’t make me feel all warm and romantic, much less like kissing. Let’s move on, although, what I have to say next isn’t that much better.
- Mistletoe is a flowering (or angiosperm) and parasitic plant. It is unable to live on its own and requires attaching itself, via a haustorium, to a host tree or shrub to feed off (extract carbon, nutrients, and water) in order for survival. For this reason, it does not grow on the ground and cannot be grown in a planter. Technically speaking, mistletoe can attach itself to any tree, however, it most commonly grows on apple, oak, and willow trees. I guess, one could say mistletoe has a preference.
- Being parasitic makes mistletoe highly resilient because it does not have to compete with other rooted plants in soil for water or other necessary nutrients. This is also an adaptive quality, as mistletoe originated in the tropics, a place where, in general, the soil is filled with microorganisms but is poor in nutrition. Additionally, few birds eat mistletoe due to the color of the berries. Actually, most animals shy away from eating the berries as they can be poisonous in large amounts.
- More than 1,500 species of mistletoe exist. However, what most people are likely familiar with is the European mistletoe known as Viscum album.
- Another fact about mistletoe is that it has a gender. Yes, there are male and female mistletoes. Female mistletoe is what most people hang in their homes, as this is the one that has berries. Now, if I was less of a person and really tacky, I would point out the irony that the female mistletoe has balls and the male mistletoe does not. 🙂
- Finally, mistletoe won’t kickstart the allergies since it has no discernible scent. I know, someone is going to tell me they know someone who is allergic to it—you know, because there always is that one person. Actually, that probably would make for a comedic scene breaking into a fit of sneezing beneath the mistletoe instead of becoming all starry-eyed or transforming into a blithering ball of awkwardness…
So, why would anyone from a kissing tradition under parasitic, poisonous poop on a stick? Read the rest of this entry »