Alright, I admit to being one of those people who thought holly is mistletoe. Thanks to my lawyer, who threatened that I might not get a kiss under the mistletoe, if I got it wrong again. So I promised to get it right and teach others as well.
Fellow lovers of evergreen Christmas, let’s get some facts right about mistletoe.
Mistletoe grows high in trees, appearing like balls. I don’t know of methods other than climbing to get it. If there are, then I wouldn’t easily know. The legal persona I am acquainted to enjoys showing off his Tarzan skills.
Mistletoe is parasitic not a shrub. For non-biology students this means that mistletoe depend on a tree they are attached to for food.
The leaves are small, not sharp and pointy. Remember if the leaves poke you then it isn’t mistletoe.
Mistletoe has white berries. This is the most important differentiating fact of all. Get it right people, white not red.
Mistletoe is commonly used as a decoration during the Christmas holiday season. There are various traditional stories linking this plant to Christmas. I promise, whatever you read, it will uplift your winter blues.
You kiss under a sprig of mistletoe. There are varied stories and histories on why people kiss under the mistletoe. Many articles have been written about it. Again, I leave it up to you to research and pick the story you want to believe. My favourite is by Mandy Barrow on British Christmas with accompanying rhyme.
“Originally, when a boy kissed a girl, he plucked a berry from the cluster and presented it to her. When the berries were gone, so were the kisses.”
A traditional rhyme about mistletoe
‘Pick a berry off the mistletoe
For every kiss that’s given.
When the berries have all gone
There’s an end to kissing.’
The lawyer and his nature apprentice wish you all a Merry Evergreen Christmas mystified with a kiss under the mistletoe. So not holly!