CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: 8 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS
TODAY’S CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN STORY: MISTLETOE
Jack Stebbins smiled. His plan was in place, and all was ready.
It was the evening of the annual Christmas party for the servants of the Witherspoon manor house. Jack had worked as a stable boy since he was twelve, but, having demonstrated his unusual intelligence, wide reading, and organizational skills, had won the position of Master Witherspoon’s secretary less than a year ago.
It was the evening of December 22, 1752, in snowy Virginia, and Jack was striding confidently toward Marian Whitmore, one of the kitchen maids. Jack and Marian had been courting for months, and Jack had only that day spoken with her father about his plans for the future happiness of Mr. Whitmore’s only daughter.
“Marian!” He caught her hand and she smiled in greeting. “Jack, my dear!”
He whirled her around and onto the open floor of the great room as the musicians had just struck up a thoroughly danceable version of “Good King Wenceslas.”
During the dance, and while refreshing themselves with Christmas punch afterwards, Jack set his plan in motion by simply talking. Jack had always had an interest in folklore and mythology, which was what had given him the idea.
“Master Witherspoon’s house is quite liberally decorated with mistletoe,” Jack said, pointing to a conveniently placed sprig over the doorway to the library, which was at the moment empty. “This little plant has a long and noble history. It was prized by the Greeks and Romans for its healing properties. And in Norse mythology, the cunning trickster Loki made an arrow from mistletoe, and used it to slay Balder the Beautiful, whose only weakness was mistletoe.”
“That’s dreadful,” said Marian, with a frown.
Jack smiled. He’d anticipated that reaction and was prepared. “But in one version of the story, Balder was resurrected, and his mother, Frigg, declared that from that time forth, mistletoe would be a symbol of love. And she vowed to give a kiss to all who pass beneath it.”
“I like that better,” Marian said approvingly.
“There are other mistletoe traditions,” Jack continued, forcing the nervousness out of his voice as he led her into the library—or rather, just under the mistletoe hung from above the doorway to the library.
“For instance?” Jack was a fact-ory of knowledge and she enjoyed hearing him talk of his discoveries.
“Well…just to take an example at random…a man who catches a lady beneath the mistletoe has a right to…well, to a kiss.”
Marian smiled—and blushed, just a little. “Is that so?” she said in mock challenge.
“Oh, it’s quite true,” he replied in true earnestness, “and moreover, it is considered very bad luck for the lady to refuse.”
And so she didn’t refuse. No one wanted to invite bad luck, after all.
Jack then plucked a berry from the mistletoe.
“Why did you do that, Jack?”
“With each kiss, a berry is plucked. When the last berry is gone, the kisses must stop.”
Soon, the white berries were all gone, and the two faces had gone just a touch red.
“Too bad,” said Marian. “All out of berries. What now?”
Jack took a deep breath. “Well,” he began. “There is one other mistletoe tradition I have yet to mention. According to this tradition, if two kiss beneath the mistletoe, then…they shall be wed.”
Marian gave a little gasp. “Oh, Jack…”
Minutes later, the Question of the Day having been asked—and answered in the affirmative—Marian spoke again.
“You know, Jack, we had no mistletoe berries to justify that last dozen or so kisses.”
“That is true,” said Jack. “Must I repent of my actions?”
“No, I think not,” the bride-to-be said as they both chuckled. “But I do have one question. That last tradition, the one about how couples kissing under the mistletoe shall be wed.”
“Is that one true…or did you just make it up?” She smiled mischievously at her future husband.
“Well,” said Jack, “It certainly worked this time. And after all, traditions have to start somewhere!”
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began with the English serving class sometime in the 1700s. We don’t know the names or the exact circumstances, but it might well have been something just like the story of our fictional Jack and Marian.
By the early 1800s, the tradition was well established. In 1819, Washington Irving, in his short story, “Christmas Eve,” wrote:
“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”
The popular Christmas song, “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” is only one of many holiday-themed songs (not to mention stories, movies, and TV specials) that feature the mistletoe tradition, as the evergreen plant continues to be used as a popular Christmas decoration and cultural Christmas symbol.
Moreover, its connection to romantic love makes mistletoe a symbol of marriage and family and children, and thus of new life and the hope of love extended through generations.
What better time to remember such hope than at Christmas, the celebration of the birth of a Baby?
And thus mistletoe is a reminder to us, not only of the love we feel for our spouses, but also of the hope that our love will carry on into the ages to come.
As Christmas nears, get yourself ready for the mistletoe with this Essential Oil recipe that will give you smooth, kissable lips:
MISTLETOE MAGIC LIP SCRUB RECIPE (Unisex)
- 4 tsp. Brown Sugar
- 3 tsp. raw Coconut Oil
- 3 tsp. raw organic Honey
- 4 drops Essential Oil(s)
Here are some good Essential Oil choices: Wild Orange, Peppermint, Spearmint, Lime.
Don’t let the busy-ness of the holiday season keep you from making time for a little love and romance!
QUESTION – WHICH OILS WOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR LIP SCRUB RECIPE?