One of the perhaps more unusual traditions that many people do at Christmas is to hang a bunch of mistletoe in their house.
The idea is that if you meet someone underneath it, you have to give them a kiss!
Kissing under the mistletoe really took off a couple of centuries ago, but the plant’s racy reputation dates back much further than that.
In 300BC, the ancient Druids cut sprigs of the climber from the trunks of oak trees with a golden knife. They believed it had sexual powers and, boiled with the blood of a pair of sacrificial white bulls, that there wasn’t a finer aphrodisiac.
Its reputation lived on. By the 18th Century mistletoe balls, trimmed with ribbons, hung in the best hallways, where demure young ladies could stand waiting underneath, lips puckered.
The magic wears off, though. After each kiss, the gentleman should pull off a berry until there are none left, after which the rest of it should be ceremonially burned, otherwise it’s 12 months of bad luck and celibacy.
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