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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What’s so Magical about Mistletoe?

What’s so Magical about Mistletoe?

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe help to make the season bright, but do you know how this parasitic plant garnered its fame?

There are a lot of myths surrounding mistletoe. Eighth century Vikings believed that mistletoe had the power to raise humans from the dead, relating to the resurrection of Balder, the god of the sun. Balder’s only enemy, Loki, made a poisoned dart with mistletoe and tricked the blind brother of Balder, Hoder, into shooting the arrow that killed Balder.

The boys’ mother, Frigga, the goddess of love and beauty, cried tears that changed the red mistletoe berries to white, raising Balder from the dead. Frigga then reversed mistletoe’s bad reputation when she, out of gratitude for getting her son back, kissed everyone who walked underneath it.

In the first century, the Druids in Britain believed that mistletoe could perform miracles, from providing fertility to humans and animals to healing diseases and protecting people from witchcraft. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe could have come from either the Viking association of the plant with Frigga or from the ancient belief that mistletoe was related to fertility.

Get the most out of that old mistletoe magic by hanging it in the following places:

* Over your home’s front and back doors so kids and spouses can’t duck out without a kiss
* On your car’s rear-view mirror when you pick up your spouse from work

Remember, the correct mistletoe etiquette is for the man to remove one berry when he kisses a woman. When all the berries are gone, there is no more kissing underneath that plant. Throw all berries away immediately and wash your hands — the berries can be poisonous.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1910, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.