Advent stories and messages from around the world
December 2nd, 2021
Kissing under the mistletoe
Have you ever heard the term “All is not as it seems?” That phrase is precisely what might be said about mistletoe.
What most people know about mistletoe is that when two people stand underneath a sprig of hanging mistletoe, they are supposed to kiss. Unfortunately, I’ve watched many a Hallmark movie where the two stars find themselves standing under the mistletoe, and they don’t kiss. (That’s because the film is only half over, and everyone knows Hallmark protagonists don’t kiss till the end of the movie.)
Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant with white berries (not red like you see in the movies) and finds its way into trees via bird droppings. As a parasite, the mistletoe attaches itself to the host tree and lives on its nutrients. Maybe that’s where we get the term, “Steal a kiss.” 😊 Don’t you just want to kiss under some mistletoe now?
Mistletoe has several historical references. One story of mistletoe goes back to the Greeks, and another that places it on among the Norse culture and finally among the Druids. The Druids are an ancient culture from the first century that lived in what we now call Ireland and Scotland. As the mistletoe plant was seen to thrive during the winter, the Druids used it as part of their festival called “The ritual of Oak and Mistletoe.”
Starting back in 18th century England, mistletoe started becoming a traditional Christmas holiday decoration. Today we still decorate with mistletoe, but it is used as a fun and romantic decoration. It is now customary to kiss under the mistletoe. So what happens if you don’t? Legend tells us you will have bad luck.
Unfortunately, most of us know that a kiss is not always a kiss of love. Sometimes, it’s a kiss of betrayal.
The Gospel of Matthew describes such an encounter, as Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrays his master.
“While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.
Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.” Or “Why have you come, friend?”
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus, and arrested him.”
All was not as it seemed. Judas’ kiss was not one of love or respect for His master; instead, it was one of betrayal. The payment of 30 pieces of silver Judas received from the Priests was short-lived; for out of guilt, He returned his compensation for betraying Jesus. And because of that guilt he carried, Judas took his own life by hanging himself.
As you know, when standing under the mistletoe is not the only time people kiss. A kiss can be a greeting, a show of respect, a sign of friendship, and yes, a way of showing one’s love for another.
This Christmas, take time to greet people you see in your travels. Always show respect, friendship, and love for others. If you find yourself standing under the mistletoe with a loved one this year, what will you do?
Dear Jesus, help us to greet others with a show of friendship, respect, and Christian love. Thank you for the love you showed us by sacrificing yourself because of your love for us. Amen