The ancient Celtics believed mistletoe to have magical healing powers and used it as an antidote for poison, infertility, and to ward of evil spirits. The plant was also seen as a symbol of peace, and it is said that among Romans, enemies who met under mistletoe would lay down their weapons and embrace.
Scandanavians associated the plant with Frigga, their goddess of love, and it may be from this that we derive the custom of kissing under the mistletoe. Those who kissed under the mistletoe had the promise of happiness and good luck in the following year.
So how do we transform this to make it a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ?
First of all, since mistletoe was a symbol of peace in ancient days, it should remind us of the Prince of Peace who was born at Christmas.
Secondly, mistletoe today is the place for a kiss. Among the Arabs, the women and children kiss the beards of their husbands or fathers. The husband or father returns their salute by a kiss on the forehead. In Egypt, an inferior kisses the hand of a superior, generally on the back, but sometimes, as a special favor, on the palm also. To testify abject submission, and in asking favors, the feet are often kissed instead of the hand.
In scripture, we have the kiss of Judas as he betrayed Jesus in the garden. We also have the penitent woman who kissed the feet of Jesus. And there was the greeting given in the early church of a ‘holy kiss’.
But this Christmas when you see the mistletoe, think about two verses of scripture:
Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. That is, embrace the Son; depend upon Him in all your ways as your sovereign. To make peace with the Father, kiss the Son.
Song 1:2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is better than wine. The Divine kiss is a metaphor of intimacy with Jesus and the ‘kisses of his mouth’ refers to the ‘words of Jesus’ which is the Word of God.
Let the mistletoe remind you that God is pursuing an intimate relationship with you that is developed as we embrace the Word of God! This is why Jesus was born!
Merry Christmas. We love yall.
Billy and Sheilah Dawsby