Mistletoe, Mythology and Folklore

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

From the earliest times mistletoe has been one of the most magical, mysterious, and sacred plants of European folklore. Kissing under the mistletoe is a well-known holiday tradition, but this little plant’s history as a symbolic herb dates back thousands of years. Many ancient cultures prized mistletoe for its healing properties. The plant’s romantic overtones most likely started with the Celtic Druids. Because mistletoe could blossom even during the frozen winter, the Druids came to view it as a sacred symbol of vivacity, and they administered it to humans and animals alike in the hope of restoring fertility.

‘Mistletoe is rare and when found it was gathered with great ceremony, and particularly on the sixth day of the moon…. Hailing the moon in a native word that means ‘healing all things,’ they prepared a ritual sacrifice and banquet beneath a tree and brought up two white bulls, whose horns were…

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