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|European mistletoe attached to a silver birch|
The name was first given to Viscum album (European mistletoe, Santalaceae), the only species native in Great Britain and much of Europe. Later the name was given to other related species, including Phoradendron serotinum (the eastern mistletoe of eastern North America, also Santalaceae).
The largest family of mistletoes, Loranthaceae, has 73 genera and over 900 species.
In culture and myths
In Romanian traditions, mistletoe (vâsc in Romanian) is considered a source of good fortune.
Mistletoe is often used as a Christmas decoration. Viscum album is used in Europe and Phoradendron serotinum is used in North America. According to custom, the mistletoe must not touch the ground between its cutting and its removal as the last of Christmas greens at Candlemas; it may remain hanging through the year, often to preserve the house from lightning or fire, until it was replaced the following Christmas Eve.
Kissing under mistletoe at Christmas
- Judd W.S. et al 2002. Plant systematics: a phylogenetic approach. Sunderland MA: Sinauer. ISBN 0-87893-403-0
- Virgil (19 BCE) The Aeneid
- Gylfaginning, XLIX On-line text
- Drury 1987.
- Brewer, E. Cobham 1898. Dictionary of phrase and fable. "Kissing under the mistletoe" relates the custom to the death of Balder, without authority.
- The WorldofChristmas.net