Monday, 5 December 2011

5th December - The Mistletoe Gatherer

We've made it into the first full week of Blogvent, happy Monday everyone.  Today, I bring you a concern very close to my heart, namely mistletoe and the gathering thereof.

The Mistletoe Gatherer (1894) John Everett Millais
I have an odd fascination with mistletoe, far more than I do with holly or Christmas roses or any other plant associated with this time of year. There's been a distinct lack of mistletoe-kissing in my life, no I'm not fishing for your pity, but it strikes me that although it is a popular icon of the season, mistletoe can be a right sod to get hold of.  I never knew why until I saw this picture...

Millais brings us a young lady in the snow, with her mistletoe bundle on her back and her scythe in her hand.  As an avid reader of Astrix books as a child, I thought it was only Getafix the Druid who used a scythe when gathering his mistletoe, but no, behold, she has her scythe!  As she perches on her snowy tussock, she is in danger of letting her big bundle of mistletoe touch the ground behind her.  Apparently mistletoe should not touch the ground at any point between gathering and hanging, as it may become contaminated with evil spirits.  Hanging mistletoe in your house will protect you from said spirits, and lightning, apparently.  No wonder it's popular.

The Victorians loved it, mind you any excuse for a bit of inappropriate touching in the name of tradition and the Victorians endorsed it.  But where to get some?  This Autumn I suddenly noticed this strange dark ball in the branches of the tree outside our house.  First of all I thought the poor tree was going bald in an odd way, but then I realised I was looking at something like this...

Mistletoe!  Outside my house! However, it's up quite high, which the begs the question of the little Mistletoe Gatherer:  How on earth did she get so much from so high up?  I'm hoping she got it as it was gathered by someone with a ladder, but I suspect she shinned up the tree and sickle-d it down for herself.  Lily-Rose is currently resisting the offer to throw her up into the tree while she swipes at the ball with some garden shears (we don't own a sickle, the shame), which shows very little adventurous spirit, but possibly a bit more common sense.  It's a shame we don't own a trampoline or I'd have a go myself...

Anyhow, I'm off to town to see if I can find an honest urchin with a bundle of mistletoe, and I'll be sure to get a branch with a good many berries, because, as they say 'pick a berry off the mistletoe, for every kiss that's given. When the berries have all gone, there's an end to kissing'.  
It's a long dark month and I don't intend to run out any time soon.

See you tomorrow.


  1. I was only wondering to myself the other day where to get mistletoe from, as your right, it does seem difficult to get hold of.

    I've throughly enjoyed the first week of blogvent and I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the weeks have to offer!

  2. Ah-ha! I scored some mistletoe from my local supermarket, so now no-one is safe! I shall stash it in my muff forthwith!


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