Christmas Mistletoe: A History of Decorating and Kissing

With the holidays right around the corner, we’re all ready to be kissed under the Christmas mistletoe. Decorate your home this season with mistletoe, that strangely beautiful parasitic plant. With all the smooching going on, you need to make sure to give yourself enough time to shop for gifts!

Mistletoe Origins

Mistletoe is a plant that evokes strong images of Christmas love and cheer and was used as Christmas decoration as far back as the middle ages. Pagans and Christians both have mistletoe rooted in their traditions. The pagans required enemies who met under mistletoe to abandon their weapons until the next day. The Christians, in the middle ages, lay statues of the baby Jesus in a ring of mistletoe, holly, ribbons and nuts, called the Holly Bough. Druid ceremonies used mistletoe to symbolize a renewal of life and the eventual return of the sun.

Mistletoe in Victorian Times

Mistletoe was also widely used in Victorian times. Victorian ladies were the originators of mistletoe “kissing balls,” mistletoe, ribbons and other herbs typically covering potatoes or apples and hung from doorways. In these times of great propriety, public kissing was frowned upon. But the kissing ball was one of the exceptions; gentlemen could waltz their paramour under the mistletoe balll and steal a kiss. For obvious reasons, it was a popular decoration!

Decorate Your Home with Mistletoe

Make your own Victorian kissing ball with a Styrofoam ball and some real or artificial mistletoe. With mistletoe bought from a florist, home remodel store or even online at a site like, attach to the ball with staples or pins, and garnish with ribbons and bells. Put several around your home under doorways; with festive and brightly colored ribbons, they will add instant cheer to your home.

How about making your own mistletoe wreath? You can steal kisses each time you and that special someone open the door.

At any craft store, get a wire wreath shape or form one of your own. You can make it round or oval, or even form it as garland to place on top of your mantle. Attach bunches of mistletoe to the wreath shape with 24 gauge floral wire. A good plan for a beautiful finished product is to start with smaller bunches at the top, adding larger ones as you get to the bottom. Red or white beads in groups of three threaded on wires can be strategically placed to look like mistletoe berries.

When planning a dinner party, buy small vases and put a sprig of mistletoe at everyone’s place at the table. Mistletoe surrounding the bases of candle holders make mini wreaths that look beautiful in the candlelight.

Place a sprig of mistletoe in your loved one’s drawer and be sure to hover nearby when he’s looking for his socks! Place a sprig under your pillow and show him your surprise as you get ready for bed. Make a lapel pin with a sprig and receive kisses wherever you go

Mistletoe is Toxic to Pets

Do remember, however, that mistletoe can be poisonous to animals. There are several species of mistletoe, each producing different symptoms in animals. According to the ASPCA, “American mistletoe most often causes depression and vomiting in cats and dogs, but this plant and others in the mistletoe family have the potential to cause more serious signs, such as low blood pressure and cardiovascular collapse…”

Let the Kissing Under the Mistletoe Begin!

Keep the mistletoe near to your loved ones, out of reach from Fido and Snowball, and your whole household can enjoy a happy, kissable holiday!

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