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Mistletoe's druidic past is riveting
There is only one documented place where mistletoe is placed in a cathedral. According to the York Book of Days, mistletoe is placed in York Minster. It's a tip of the hat to the ancient druidic past of the bloodsucking plant. Druids thought it had the power to keep evil away. In the northern areas of England it grows on lime, poplar, apple and hawthorn trees. In my neck of the woods, Massachusetts, mistletoe grows in bushes. A custom of kissing friends under the mistletoe started to show goodwill, and it grew from there.
If two enemies chanced to start to fight under the mistletoe-they laid down there arms for peace. It was so venerated that if a couple kissed under it, they were giving a promise to marry.
Interesting video by the Dean of York Minister, on the custom of using mistletoe in the church. Again, this is not a common practice in most churches in the UK or America. But as he says the custome hardly ever died out in York.
Mistletoe in the 18th century had a connotation of wicked and lasciviousness about it. I'm sure the elders at Christmas gatherings had a thing or two to say about the hanging of that plant. It might have even been thought to lead to a lascivious future for the woman or even a hasty wedding from a too hasty Christmas party.
The couple in the first picture are enjoying a Christmas party, and it seems gentle and perhaps a little jostled. In most cases, there was a lot of fun going on under the mistletoe.
Want to ward of demons? FInd true love? Forage for it.
“Here were kept up the old games of hoodmanblind, shoe the wild mare, hot cockles, steal the white loaf, bob apple, and snap dragon; the Yule-clog and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe with its white berries hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.”
Mistletoe grows in Massachusetts, and if you are lucky you might find some in an Oak tree. It is parasitic, and attaches itself to it. It is easy to spot in the late fall, and winter. The berries are poisonous, and the leaves are waxy. Find out more here.
Now make yourself a merry ball!
I'm going to try to find this, and make the craft. I'm not too sure about debauchery under the mistletoe, but I'll still create the craft.
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