Hey! I made it three days in a row! Shocking, I know. I truly am trying to get back to some semblance of a schedule. I’m racing against the clock here, so not much time to chit chat! Read on for some information you may not have known about mistletoe!
Verse of the Day
December 3, 2019
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…
Thoughts on the Verse of the Day
God doesn’t just hear our cries for deliverance; he sends a powerful Deliverer! God sent Moses in response to the Israelites’ cries from Egypt (see Exodus 3). God also sent Jesus in response to the world’s cries for deliverance from its bondage to the evil prince of darkness. Our new world, our Kingdom, is built on love — the sacrificial love of a Savior who not only conquered death for us, but gave himself up to do so. Jesus is not only our rescuer (saves us FROM something), he is also our Savior (also saves us FOR something as well)!
Mistletoe . . . we see it in all of the Christmas movies, hanging over doorways with a couple caught under it at the same time awkwardly kiss at the realization that it is there. Because we have been raised with the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe, many of us don’t question where the tradition started, or why. I was curious though, and I’m sure at least a few of you are too. Here’s what I found out! It’s really interesting!
Mistletoe was considered to be sacred by the Norse, the Celtic Druids and the North American Indians. The Druid priests would cut mistletoe from an oak tree with a sickle made of gold, with the branches needing to be caught before they could touch the ground. The branches would be divided into many sprigs and handed out to the people, who would hang them over their doorways as a protection against evils, including thunder and lightning. It was thought that if you placed a sprig in a baby’s cradle that it would protect the baby from goblins, and that giving a sprig to the first cow to have a calf after New Year would protect the whole herd! It is also a symbol for peace and joy! In the ancient times of the Druids, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to put down their weapons and keep truce until the next day. This is where the custom of hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling and kissing under it started, as a show of friendship and goodwill. So, while all of this “scandal” rolls through the country with everyone bringing up “harassment” from many years gone by, even dragging being kissed under the mistletoe into it as a potential harassment hazard, keep in mind that this is a tradition that goes back for centuries and that the original intent was peace and good-will, even between enemies.
So, what exactly IS mistletoe? Well, mistletoe is a parasitical plant that doesn’t have roots of its own and lives off of the tree that it is attached to. If it didn’t have that tree, it would die. It was thought to be sacred by ancient Europeans. It was used by the Druids in their sacrifices to the gods, and the Celtic people thought it had miraculous healing powers. The name for mistletoe in the Celtic language even means “all-heal”. They thought it rendered poisons harmless, made humans and animals prolific, kept them safe from witchcraft and even protected their homes from ghosts! With ALL of those amazing abilities they also thought the plant brought good luck to anyone who had some.
There is a beautiful story that the Norsemen had about mistletoe. The story goes that mistletoe was the sacred plant of Frigga, the goddess of love and the mother of Balder, who was the god of the summer sun. Balder had a dream about death, which frightened his mother, because if he died then all life on earth would end. To keep this from happening she went right away to air, fire, water, earth to every animal and plant, to get them to promise that no harm would come to her son. Now Balder couldn’t be hurt by anything on earth, or under the earth. Balder did have one enemy though. Loki, the god of evil, knew of one plant that Frigga hadn’t thought of in her quest to keep her son safe from harm. It did not grow on the earth, or under it, but on apple and oak trees. It was the mistletoe. Loki made an arrow tip of the mistletoe and gave it to the blind god of winter, Hoder. Hoder shot it, striking Balder dead. The sky went pale, and all things in heaven and earth cried for the sun god. For three days each element tried to bring him back to life. Finally, Frigga restored him. The tears she cried for her son turned into the pearly white berries that are on the mistletoe plant and being full of joy, she kissed everyone who passed under the tree on which it was growing. The story ends with a decree that anyone who stands under the mistletoe would come to no harm. They would just get a token of love, a kiss.
It was a natural transition to translate the spirit of this myth into a Christian way of thinking and to accept the mistletoe as a symbol of that great Love that conquers Death. Mistletoe’s medicinal properties, whether they are real or imaginary, make it perfectly emblematic of the Tree of Life, the leaves representing the healing of the nations, which parallels it to the Virgin Birth of Christ.
Later, during the eighteenth-century, the English gave mistletoe credit for magical romance, instead of healing powers. A kissing ball was made with the mistletoe and at Christmas time a young lady who found herself standing under a ball of it; brightly decorated with evergreens, ribbons and ornaments, could not refuse to be kissed. If nobody kissed her then she could not expect to marry during the following year. Whether or not we believe in the magic, it does make it fun to hang it up at Christmas time.
Giving Tuesday (The day after Cyber Monday) – We have a special day for giving thanks, we have two days for saving money, so we spend more, but what about a day set aside to GIVE? Giving Tuesday is a special day that is trying to get its feet on the ground, bringing together communities to give, to help those less fortunate, and to bolster love in their own neighborhoods. I know that many of my readers are generous people, so please, put some of your generosity today into your own surrounding region by finding someplace to give your support. It can be a food bank, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, a battered women’s and children’s shelter, a no-kill animal shelter, etc. Please, this time of year is a time to share, to spread the blessings we have, and to give to those less fortunate. Seriously, what better time could there be?
Food Celebration of the Day –
Peppermint Latte Day – Oooooh, this is one I celebrate every morning! I have a café latte machine and make one to drink before work, and another to take with me. It’s delicious, soothing and WONDERFUL on a cold morning! You can make a delicious Peppermint Latte by making no sugar chocolate syrup (google any chocolate syrup recipe and substitute a natural no-sugar/no chemical sweetener for the sugar. I use Swerve. Add a few drops of peppermint extract. YUM!
I’m going to take my peppermint latte and head to work. Have a wonderful day! God bless you and I’ll see you tomorrow.
Celebration list sources: