Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas plants - legend and tradition

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas emerged in Europe during the Middle Ages. The original custom held that each time a man kissed a woman under a twig of mistletoe, he should remove one of the berries. Once all the berries were gone, no more kissing could take place under that twig.

The sources I read say that mistletoe is found along the East Coast of the United States. Well, it's also here in Houston! The only time you really notice it, however, is when the leaves are gone from the trees. Huge clumps of the parasitic and poisonous plant can then be easily seen.

First discovered by the early Aztecs, the poinsettia was thought of as an Indian symbol of purity. When they were converted to Christianity by the Spanish conquistadors, the power of the poinsettia was also transformed.

Legend has it that an impoverished Mexican girl had nothing to offer on the altar to Jesus except weeds, but was encouraged by the priests to give of her spirit and so she brought the weeds to church with her. Once inside, the weeds miraculously blossomed into a beautiful poinsettia plant. In Mexico, the poinsettia plant is called Flores de Noche Buena, or "flowers of the holy night".

It is still widely believed that the poinsettia is poisonous, even tho countless studies have disproved that notion.


Tammy said...

I had no idea mistletoe was "parasitic and poisonous." I'll have to make sure the girls read this post; I bet they will find it interesting. :)

Have a nice holiday, Goldenrod...from our entire family.

Polimom said...

Interesting! I didn't realize the berries were initially picked each time a kiss was given beneath the mistletoe.