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Market Haul

Market Haul: Mistletoe

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Pucker up — legend has it that mistletoe leads to love and romance during the holidays.

For Bing Crosby, it was a holiday symbol as iconic as snow and presents under the tree. Toby Keith blamed it for his Christmas indiscretions. And Justin Bieber would rather be under it than playing in the snow. I'm talking about mistletoe, of course! This time of year, these evergreen branches inspire joy and love all over the world.

Mistletoe grows on willow and apple trees, and its association with the holidays dates back to the ancient Druids, who believed it would bring good luck and deter evil spirits. Norse mythology also pegged this plant as a symbol of love and friendship, but kissing under the mistletoe is an English custom. For generations, mistletoe has been a vital component of the traditional British "Kissing Bough", which also incorporates other evergreen plants like ivy, holly, and fir.

When you buy fresh mistletoe at the farmers' market, hang it up as soon as possible, within a day or two at the latest. Over time it will dry out, but it should last for several weeks. While it's on display, be prepared to pucker up; according to popular holiday tradition, it's open season to kiss whoever stands under it.

Mistletoe berries can range from transparent white to slightly pink. In some instances these berries are poisonous, so consider removing them before hanging your mistletoe up at home. No one wants to spend the holidays in the emergency room!


Do you use mistletoe in your holiday decorations? Share your ideas and DIY tips in the comments section below.

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About the Author
Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon is a Wharton graduate who prefers flip flops to business suits. She writes about travel, food, wellness, and social consciousness. more
  • lisa p. 3 years ago
    Where I live, Southern California, we make swags of Pyracantha berries which are in bloom during the Holidays. Their red berries and green leaves are really lovely. However, even though one COULD make pyracantha jam, one SHOULDN'T unless one has a knowledgeable cook with them the first time. Why? The berries, like all fruits in the rose & apple families, carry seeds with concentrated doses of arsenic among other bad things. Pyracantha is cooked down after frist washing well and once cooked, it is wrung thru cheesecloth to catch the skins and seeds which are bad for ya. Then since the berry is full of pectin (pucker up time!), southwestern cooks add loads of applejuice concentrate or white grape juice and then flavor the jam further with chili flakes of actual hot peppers. Chili flakes work better. So if you don't have a dog, make natural Pyracantha berry displays is safe anf eco-friendly. Some people call it Fire Thorn Berry as well, In srping, the bushes abound with white flowers which become the red berries later. Birds eat the berries and nest in the thorny treees, especially mockingbirds. Happy holidays
  • Gerald B. 4 years ago
    Mistletoe grows in abundance on the Maple trees in our yard in Virginia... lots of opportunities for a kiss.
  • Sherie O. 5 years ago
    great idea