- Publish Date
- Thursday, 21 December 2017, 10:00AM
The modern tradition of kissing under the mistletoe seems like a nice thing to do, but the roots of it aren't exactly pleasant.
The noxious plant was brought into popular culture for its healing properties. If you try to eat the berries, it would actually cause nausea and stomach pain as they are very poisonous.
It was consumed in the belief that it would increase fertility as it grew in winter when nothing else would.
In Norse mythology, it had connotations of love and friendship.
The problem arose in the 18th century where it was deemed to be unlucky if you didn't kiss someone under the mistletoe. As you can imagine this created havoc at Christmas time as the woman tried to refuse.
Charles Dickens talked about how the woman "screamed and struggled, and ran into corners, and did everything but leave the room, until they all at once found it useless to resist any longer and submitted to be kissed with good grace."