Mistletoe is, in fact, a parasite. Ever looked up at a big tree in the winter, when it's lost all its leaves, and thought you were looking at bird's nests now exposed? Well that's what I used to think I was looking at anyway 😃 Well, turns out that what we are in fact seeing is mistletoe, all happy and green as it lives of the water and nutrients from it's host tree!
That ability to stay green even once the host tree had lost all its leaves used to have people believing it was a special plant with magical powers.
Mistletoe features in both Norse and Druid mythology. It is from a story in Norse mythology that we get the association with love. A mistletoe arrow having been a weapon used to murder Balder, the son of goddess Frigga. She was distraught and her tears, falling on the plant, created the berries. So pleased was she by this, that she used he plant as a sign of forgiveness, friendship and love and promised to kiss all who passed below it.
The tradition of kissing continues, apparently being popular among the serving classes of Victorian England! If a woman was the stand below the mistletoe then any man may kiss her and it would be bad luck for her to refuse. A berry must be plucked from the mistletoe for each kiss. Once all the berries have gone there are no more kisses!
Sources: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/1962524/why-kiss-under-mistletoe-christmas/, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mistletoe, https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/mistletoe.shtml