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According to Pliny the Elder, mistletoe was sacred to the druids, and it has a number of traditional and pagan associations. It is traditionally used in England to decorate houses at Christmas, when it is associated with the custom of kissing under the mistletoe.

In Scandinavian mythology, the shaft which Loki caused the blind Hod to throw at Balder, killing him, was tipped with mistletoe, which was the only plant that could harm him.

Recorded from Old English (in form misteltā), the word comes from mistel ‘mistletoe’ (of Germanic origin) + tān ‘twig’.

The Mistletoe Bough a ballad by Thomas Bayly (1839), which recounts the story of a young bride who during a game hides herself in a chest with a spring-lock and is then trapped there; many years later her skeleton is discovered. Bayly based the ballad on a passage in Samuel Rogers' poem Italy.

Subjects: Cookery, Food, and Drink.

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