Why Do We Kiss Under the Mistletoe Anyway? Details on the Holiday Tradition

Wait, why do we kiss under the mistletoe anyway? What started this romantic (or creepy, depending on your POV) holiday tradition? Details!

Katherine Stinson - Author

Dec. 20 2022, Published 6:06 p.m. ET

A couple under the mistletoe
Source: Getty Images

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ... you know the rest! The holiday season certainly sparks feelings of romance (or loneliness — we get it, dating is rough), but whether or not you have someone to kiss under the mistletoe, we wanted to know: Why do we kiss under the mistletoe anyway?

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Did you know the origins of the kissing-under-the-mistletoe tradition actually trace back centuries?

Let's turn back time to find out who started the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.

kissing under the mistletoe
Source: Getty Images
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Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?

According to a report from Live Science, we have ancient Greece to thank for the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, as the ancient Greeks associated it with fertility. The plant was used during the feast of Saturnalia, and later on in marriage ceremonies.

What's really interesting is that in the Roman era, enemies at war would actually reconcile under mistletoe because they felt it signified peace.

Per the same report from Live Science, there is a Nordic myth that Frigga, goddess of love, was distraught when Loki (you know what he's the god of) shot her son with an arrow carved from mistletoe. Frigga was able to revive her dying son ... under a mistletoe tree. As a result, she stated that anyone standing under a mistletoe tree deserved both protection as well as a kiss!

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Love in aisle three.
Source: Getty Images

And in the Victorian era in England, woe be any woman who refused a kiss under the mistletoe — she should not expect to receive any marriage proposals for the following year for her rejection!

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Victorian-era England being Victorian-era England, passersby who happened to witness or hear about the young lady rejecting a kiss under the mistletoe would essentially judge the woman in question and deem her as destined to die alone.

(Somewhere, the mistletoe could be heard saying, "Is it me? Am I the drama? I don't think I'm the drama.")

Don't eat mistletoe berries though, seriously.
Source: Getty Images
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Per Time magazine, the tradition made its way to the United States via Washington Irving's 1820 collection The Sketch Book, which described the holiday traditions the American author had seen in England — including kissing under the mistletoe. The best-selling book contributed to more and more American households adopting the custom.

So, whether you've got a loved one to kiss under the mistletoe this year — or you rejected a kiss and now are waiting for your one year of no marriage proposals to end — just remember, it's a plant, and you deserve to have a happy holiday regardless of your relationship status!

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