Mistletoe is known for its reputation of being a symbol of love, but did you know that it also has several other interesting facts?
Did you know: Mistletoe’s scientific name is Phoradendron Serotinum, which means “hiding thief.”
This is because the leaves of the mistletoe are sticky and can catch birds and small animals that wander beneath it. The plant then secretes chemicals that paralyze them. It then sucks the sustenance from their bodies, which it uses to grow big and strong.
It’s basically a parasitic kiss-stealer.
Even though it’s just a tiny little plant, mistletoe has an absurdly rich history. It’s been used as an ornament and symbol of good luck for thousands of years—and not just because of the tradition of kissing under it. As early as the 6th century, druids in England were using mistletoe as an antidote to poisons (the toxins would bind to the branches of the plant instead). At other times in history, it’s been used as a remedy for everything from epilepsy to arthritis, and even now its reputation as a possible cancer-fighting treatment is being investigated.
In the Victorian Era, mistletoe was popular among the upper class as a decoration during Christmas time. They decorated with wreaths and candles—and sometimes they even hung up mistletoe. Though there are no accounts of whether or not anyone ever got lucky under the mistletoe this way (we’re guessing they probably did), they did use it in their holiday parties. The most famous party that used mistletoe took place at Lord Byron’s home on New Year’s Eve 1816: he held a masquerade party, and he suspended large bunches from all of the doorways. He had a pretty good time at his own party, But it was a sight to see
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