We all know the mistletoe drill, stand under it and you get a kiss. Where did this custom come about, and just what is mistletoe? Has anyone ever grown the stuff in their garden?

Christopher Furlong, Getty Images News
Christopher Furlong, Getty Images News

According to Wikipedia:

Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several families in the order Santalales. These plants grow attached to and penetrating within the branches of a tree or shrub by a structure called the haustorium, through which they absorb nutrients from the host plant.

It is a Christmas custom for a couple who meet under a mistletoe to kiss. Some claim that the origin of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back to ancient Norse mythology.

Another theory is that the tradition originated in the ancient Babylonian-Assyrian Empire. Single women apparently stood under mistletoe hung outside the temple for the goddess of beauty and love. They were expected to bond with the first man that approached them - but they did not kiss.

The tradition later was found in England, when young men would kiss women standing under the mistletoe, and would pluck a berry from the bush after each kiss."

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