Plants are vital for life – without photosynthesis taking place, we would all be very hungry!
However, some plants don’t just survive off food they make themselves. Mistletoe is a hemiparasite. Alongside the food it gets from photosynthesising, it steals minerals and nutrients from its host. This explains why mistletoe can survive high in trees, not needing to reach the ground. It cannot actually survive unless feeding off another plant.
In the UK, it is thought that kissing under the mistletoe started in the 1700’s, and gradually became more popular. The Victorians were especially keen on the tradition! There does not appear to be any reason why we kiss underneath the mistletoe at Christmas. Possibly it is because it remains green in the winter, when other plants have died away, and is seen as a symbol of fertility and life. The Greeks and Romans believed mistletoe represents peace and friendship. Ancient tales from ancient Scandinavia incorporate mistletoe representing love and friendship.
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