I’ve never stood underneath some mistletoe and had a kiss. Truthfully, I think that might be a good thing since on TV, folks always end up standing under the mistletoe with someone they’d rather not kiss or their grandma. Besides, the plant is poisonous, causing “acute gastrointestinal problems including stomach pain, and diarrhea along with low pulse.”
Looks like Norse mythology deserves the credit/blame for mistletoe kissing. I found the same story in diff places around the web (about.com, christmas festivals and customs blog). Here’s the about.com version of the myth of Baldur:
Baldur’s mother was the Norse goddess, Frigga. When Baldur was born, Frigga made each and every plant, animal and inanimate object promise not to harm Baldur. But Frigga overlooked the mistletoe plant — and the mischievous god of the Norse myths, Loki, took advantage of this oversight. Ever the prankster, Loki tricked one of the other gods into killing Baldur with a spear fashioned from mistletoe. The demise of Baldur, a vegetation deity in the Norse myths, brought winter into the world, although the gods did eventually restore Baldur to life. After which Frigga pronounced the mistletoe sacred, ordering that from now on it should bring love rather than death into the world. Happily complying with Frigga’s wishes, any two people passing under the plant from now on would celebrate Baldur’s resurrection by kissing under the mistletoe.
There are other origin tales too, like the Scandanavian story about mistletoe being the plant of peace. According to wikipedia, “If enemies met by chance beneath it in a forest, they laid down their arms and maintained a truce until the next day.”
Whatever. All I know is we shouldn’t be having all these poisonous plants hanging around our families (and pets!). Mistletoe, holly and poinsettia. Sheesh! Tis the season to be vomitting. Mylanta should totally take advantage of the holiday season to get the scoop on Pepto.