Celebrating Mistletoe on the 3rd Day of Winter Solstice
The origins of Mistletoe as a Christmas decoration go far back into our Pagan origins. Druids considered the Mistletoe — a parasitic plant that grows on willow and apple, and other species — to be both sacred (and sacred tomthe Sun) and healing … and a magick plant, good for the heart (but beware, it is also poisonous!), a symbol of everlasting life through death. Roman author Pliny wrote in the first century CE that the “Druids hold nothing more sacred than mistletoe and a tree on which it is growing.”
This third day of Solstice was referred to as “Nameless Day” and the “Feast of Potentials” (also known as the “Secret of the Unhewn Stone”). In some traditions, it was a stand-alone day, not associated with any lunar month. Those born on this date were said to have strong intuitive senses and healing abilities.
According to a post in Magical Recipes Online the third day of Solstice “… was (and still is) a Holy day attributed only to Mistletoe, the Winter’s equivalent to Oak. Both were considered equally powerful like Yin and Yang, Light and Darkness. There was a powerful Druid ceremony called “the Ritual of Oak and Mistletoe”, in which Druids climbed a sacred oak and cut the mistletoe growing on it.” The Nameless Day was believed to have powers of change, and Mistletoe’s berries were believed to embody the essence of the Gods and Goddesses. It was also considered a powerful element in spells against darkness.
When we think of Mistletoe today, many recognize it from the “kissing bough”, a tradition that came to us from the Middle Ages. A berry would be picked from the Mistletoe and exchanged for a kiss. When all the berries were gone…. well, you would need more Mistletoe if you wanted another kiss!
And even that fairly recent tradition was rooted in earlier traditions: in the Middle Ages in England, “holy boughs” were created with a figure of the Christ Child and kept in the home. Visitors would be given a “kiss of peace” at the Holy Bough for forgiveness for any transgressions or ill will during the year. Eventually the Christian church banned Mistletoe from church decorations due to its pagan associations… but it has clearly made its way back into our modern festivities.
I love the idea of Mistletoe as a “kiss of peace” and would definitely like to revive that tradition!