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Saturday, December 18, 2010


(Mistletoe, hand-colored engraving from
A Curious Herbal by Elizabeth Blackwell,
1707-1758, English botanical illustrator)

The mistletoe is one of the semi-parasitic plants that attach themselves to shrubs or trees. It is poisonous if ingested.

The exact source of the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Yuletide is not clear, but it is known that pre-Christian European cultures like the Celts, Druids, and Norsemen thought it a sacred plant and used it as a fertility symbol.


Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen — and kissed me there.

~ Walter de la Mare (1873-1956), English writer, most famous for his ghost stories and children’s poetry

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