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Mistletoe: A Christmas Tradition from Norway

Mistletoe is a very strange plant. It has no roots of its own, and it lives off of trees that it attaches itself to.

In Britain, long ago, the Mistletoe was thought to have wonderful healing powers. In the Celtic language, the word Mistletoe means "all-heal". In ancient days, Mistletoe was used to heal the sick, as a medicine against poisoning, to protect the home from ghosts and to keep people safe from witchcraft. Having a sprig of Mistletoe in the home was supposed to bring good luck.

A lovely legend about the tradition of Mistletoe comes from Norway.

A long, long time ago, when there were still gods roaming the earth, there lived Frigga. Frigga was the goddess of love and she was also the mother of Balder. Balder was the god of the sun.

One night, Balder had a horrible dream. In his dream, he saw that he was going to die. Now, back in the ancient days, people believed that what they saw in their dreams would really happen, so when Balder told his mother about the dream, she became very upset. She knew that if Balder were to die, then all of life on earth would die also. The world needed the sun in order to survive.

Frigga had to find a way to keep her son from dying. She went to Air, Fire, Water and Earth and begged them to protect Balder. She went to all the animals and plants and asked them not to harm to son.

When all had agreed to protect Balder, Frigga was happy. Her son could not be hurt by anything on the earth, or under the earth, or so she thought.

Balder still had one enemy who would have liked nothing better than to see the end of the god of the sun. This enemy was named Loki, and he was the god of evil. He watched as Frigga had gone to all the gods and the plants and the animals and asked for her son's protection. He also saw that, in her hurry to save her son, she had forgotten a plant.

This plant did not grow under the earth, and it did not grow upon the earth. It grew on the apple and oak trees. The plant was the Mistletoe.

Loki took the Mistletoe, and he made an arrow tip from it.

The evil god then went to Hoder, who was the blind god of Winter. Loki tricked Hoder into shooting the arrow, and it hit Balder.

Balder was dead.

Suddenly, the color left the sky, and the sun was gone. All of the animals, plants and the gods cried for Balder, the sun god. For three days straight, the elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water tried to bring Balder back to life, but it was no good. He was gone.

On the third day after the death of Balder, Frigga was sitting under the tree where the Mistletoe grew. She was holding her son close, while the tears dropped from her eyes.

Some of the tears dropped onto the arrow tip made of Mistletoe, that was still in Balder's heart. The teardrops changed into little white berries on the Mistletoe. The berries then took away the poison from the Mistletoe plant and Balder was brought back to life!

Frigga was so happy that she started kissing everyone who passed under the tree where the Mistletoe grew.

Frigga then went on to promise that anyone who stood under the Mistletoe would never come to any harm, they would receive a token of love instead...a kiss.

Now that is why we hang Mistletoe at Christmas. Everybody needs love, and what better way to get a kiss than to stand under Mistletoe, the plant of love.


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