Saturday, December 31, 2016

Auld Lang Syne--2016




"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially (but far from exclusively) in the English-speaking world; its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it as a close to jamborees and other functions. The song's Scots title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by" or "old times". Consequently "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, is loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times". The song begins by posing a rhetorical question as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten, and is generally interpreted as a call to remember long-standing friendships. Most common use of the song involves only the first verse and the chorus. The last lines of both of these are often sung with the extra words "For the sake of" or "And days of", rather than Burns' simpler lines. This allows one note for each word, rather than the slight melisma required to fit Burns' original words to the melody.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne

For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For auld lang syne

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017--The Year of Stitches



A year in stitches--Take a blank canvas, each day add at least one stitch to that canvas.  This is
a great way to practice all those techniques you want to learn or already know.  It is also a diary of
each day's progress in your thread world.


Michelle Anas Beauliew Morgan created a colorful canvas stitching each day in 2016.  Check out Facebook, Pinterest, and blogs to find tutorials on special stitches.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gathering With Friends!

It's always a grand time when friends can gather to share fellowship.
Rosemary was our hostess for this day--we enjoy seeing her Christmas tree,
which is loaded (over 200 handmade ornaments!).  We can spend hours
looking and admiring these ornaments gathered over the years.

Most are handwoven, felted 

Some arrive from foreign countries or visitors to 
Rosemary's home

All of her ornaments are small and Rosemary says she 'talks' to each one
as she places them on the tree--she shares memories of each

This was the day we exchanged handmade gifts, either made by yourself
or someone else.  This was felted fingerless mitts made by Olga--
we all loved them!!

Olga is a super felt maker!  She made these wonderful bracelets

Dottie was wearing her little snowman pin, handwoven and stitched.

A knitted cowl was given from Penny's hands to Olga--
perfect match her lovely bracelets.

Marion received this super cotton scarf woven by Pat

My gift was one of Rosemary's handwoven cards and one of her
little woven angels--wings are lace from her wedding dress of
50 years ago--what a privilege to receive this sweet angel
with such memories

Ann received two indigo dyed towels, shibori stitched
by Connie

Connie stitched the stars and moon and hand dyed with indigo

Penny received this wonderful thread angel. 
Perfect day with friends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Good Way To End The Year......................


Yep! It's a good way to end my year--just ordered a new magazine subscription
that is loaded with more UFOs for me to add to my stash!

I'm so excited to see another publication on wool art applique, hooking, etc.
First issue released January, 2017
Check it out.

I already 'love' Primitive Quilts--have done some projects from past issues!

And now I'll have more!


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Finished! That 2016 Year Lace Scarf


Whew!  Finished before 2016 ended--actually, I wanted to give this as a gift to blond headed daughter--after all I had only been knitting on it the whole of 2016.
Each month you had a different lace pattern to knit--to me, this is the
best way to accomplish a goal--even if it is a year long project.

I had this handspun merino/silk yarn--so glad I have handspun for this project.

I wasn't really sure I would like this yarn for the scarf, but it turned out okay! 
I love knitting LACE!  Never thought I would--when I took a workshop with THE 
Lace Knitting Gal from New Zealand--I was just dumb stuck while in the class!
Now, It finally clicked--don't laugh--that was 20 years ago!

I know!  it took me that long to get my brain to accept lace knitting!  But,
it's so worth it--



I'm preparing to knit in 2017 with Elizabeth Ravenwood in her 2017 Estonian Lace Knitting project.
You can find her and this project along with another year long learning adventure on Ravelry.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy Boxing Day! Or St. Stephens Day!

Take your preference--celebrate Boxing Day or St. Stephens Day......here is why

Boxing Day takes place on December 26th and is only celebrated in a few countries; mainly ones historically connected to the UK (such as Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand) and in many European countries. In Germany it is known as "Zweite Feiertag” (which means 'second celebration') and also “Zweiter Weihnachtsfeiertag” which translates as Boxing Day (although it doesn’t literally mean that)!
It was started in the UK about 800 years ago, during the Middle Ages. It was the day when the alms box, collection boxes for the poor often kept in churches, were traditionally opened so that the contents could be distributed to poor people. Some churches still open these boxes on Boxing Day.
It might have been the Romans that first brought this type of collecting box to the UK, but they used them to collect money for the betting games which they played during their winter celebrations!
In Holland, some collection boxes were made out of a rough pottery called 'earthenware' and were shaped like pigs. Perhaps this is where we get the term 'Piggy Bank'!
The Christmas Carol, Good King Wenceslas, is set on Boxing Day and is about a King in the Middle Ages who brings food to a poor family.
It was also traditional that servants got the day off to celebrate Christmas with their families on Boxing Day. Before World War II, it was common for working people (such as milkmen and butchers) to travel round their delivery places and collect their Christmas box or tip. This tradition has now mostly stopped and any Christmas tips, given to people such as postal workers and newspaper delivery children, are not normally given or collected on Boxing Day.
Boxing Day has now become another public holiday in countries such as the UKCanadaAustralia and New Zealand. It is also the traditional day that Pantomimes started to play.
There are also often sports played on Boxing Day in the UK, especially horse racing and football matches! It's also when shops traditionally had big sales after Christmas in the UK (like Black Friday in the USA).
The 26th December is also St. Stephen's Day. Just to confuse things, there are two St. Stephens in history! The first St. Stephen was a very early follower of Jesus and was the first Christian Martyr (a person who dies for their religious beliefs). He was stoned to death by Jews who didn't believe in Jesus.
The second St. Stephen was a Missionary, in Sweden, in the 800s. He loved all animals but particularly horses (perhaps why there is traditionally horse racing on boxing day). He was also a martyr and was killed by pagans in Sweden. In Germany there was a tradition that horses would be ridden around the inside of the church during the St. Stephen's Day service!
St. Stephen's Day (or 'the feast of Stephen') is when the Carol 'Good King Wenceslas' is set. It's about helping the poor - so it has a strong connection to Boxing Day.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Why Is Christmas Celebrated On December 25?

So, why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

One of the most fascinating Christmas events that we attended was 
the Planetarium, where we learned that Jesus was most likely born in the 
Spring, not December.
Does it really matter what date Christ was born ?  We 
celebrate the joy of this event any time of the year.
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Hanukkah - The Jewish Festival of Lights!


Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This happened in the 160s BCE/BC (before Jesus was born). (Hanukkah is the Jewish word for 'dedication'.) Hanukkah last for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December. Because the Jewish calendar is lunar (it uses the moon for its dates), Kislev can happen from late November to late December.
In 2016, Hanukkah is from in the evening of Saturday, 24 December until the evening of Sunday, 1st January.
During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a 'hanukkiyah'. There is a special ninth candle called the 'shammash' or servant candle which is used to light the other candles. The shammash is often in the center of the other candles and has a higher position. On the first night one candle is lit, on the second night, two are lit until all are lit on the eighth and final night of the festival. Traditionally they are lit from left to right. A special blessing, thanking God, is said before or after lighting the candles and a special Jewish hymn is often sung. The menorah is put in the front window of houses so people passing can see the lights and remember the story of Hanukkah. Most Jewish family and households have a special menorah and celebrate Hanukkah.
Hanukkah is also a time for giving and receiving presents and gifts are often given on each night. Lots of games are played during the time of Hanukkah. The most popular is 'dreidel' (Yiddish) or 'sivivon' (Hebrew). It's a four sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side. The four letter are the first letter of the phrase 'Nes Gadol Hayah Sham' which means 'A great miracle happened there' (in Israel, 'there' is changed to 'here' so it's 'Nes Gadol Hayah Po'). Player put a coin, nut or chocolate coin in a pot and the top is spun. In the letter 'nun' (נ) come up nothing happens, if it's 'gimel' (ג) the player wins the pot, if it's 'hay' (ה) you win half the pot and if it's 'shin' (for 'there' ש) or 'pe' (for 'here' פ) you have to put another item into the pot and the next person has a spin!

The Story behind Hanukkah

Friday, December 23, 2016

"Twas The Night................................"

According to legend, Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, for his family on Christmas Eve 1822. He never intended that it be published, but a family friend, Miss Harriet Butler, learned of the poem sometime later from Moore's children. She copied it into her album, and submitted it to the editor of the Troy (New York) Sentinel where it made its first appearance in print on December 23, 1823. Soon, the poem began to be reprinted in other newspapers, almanacs and magazines, with the first appearance in a book in The New York Book of Poetry, edited by Charles Fenno Hoffman, in 1837.
It was not until 1844, however, that Moore himself acknowledged authorship in a volume of his poetry entitled Poems, published at the request of his children. One hundred and eighty years later it is the most-published, most-read, most-memorized and most-collected book in all of Christmas literature.



Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ahh, Rudolph--





Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer




The Chicago-based Montgomery Ward company, department store operators, had been purchasing and distributing children’s coloring books as Christmas gifts for their customers for several years. In 1939, Montgomery Ward tapped one of their own employees to create a book for them, thus saving money. 34-year old copywriter Robert L. May wrote the story of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in 1939, and 2.4 million copies were handed out that year. Despite the wartime paper shortage, over 6 million copies had been distributed by 1946.
May drew in part on the story “The Ugly Duckling” and in part from his own experiences as an often taunted, small, frail youth to create the story of the misfit reindeer. Though Rollo and Reginald were considered, May settled on Rudolph as his reindeer’s name.
Writing in verse as a series of rhyming couplets, May tested the story as he went along on his 4-year old daughter Barbara, who loved the story
Sadly, Robert Mays wife died around the time he was creating Rudolph, leaving Mays deeply in debt due to medical bills. However, he was able to persuade Sewell Avery, Montgomery Ward’s corporate president, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, thus ensuring May’s financial security.
May’s story “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was printed commercially in 1947 and in 1948 a nine-minute cartoon of the story was shown in theaters. When May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, wrote the lyrics and melody for the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, the Rudolph phenomenon was born. Turned down by many musical artists afraid to contend with the legend of Santa Claus, the song was recorded by Gene Autry in 1949 at the urging of Autry’s wife. The song sold two million copies that year, going on to become one of the best-selling songs of all time, second only to Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”. The 1964 television special about Rudolph, narrated by Burl Ives, remains a holiday favorite to this day and Rudolph himself has become a much-loved Christmas icon.



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Why Christmas Trees Are Decorated?



The Christmas tree is a strong symbol of Christmas. It serves as the family’s center of attention. In fact, it is the center of most Christmas ceremonies all over the world.
Christmas is about traditions and memories, and symmetric and beautifully decorated Christmas trees are something that the entire family will always value and remember. Every year, between 25 and 30 million Americans celebrate Christmas with Christmas trees, thus, the scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree enlivens the Christmas spirit among most Americans.
Christmas trees have a long and exciting history. During the pre-Christian era, people and tribes often had holy groves and trees where they sacrificed to the gods. The trees were most often oak or ash, and they symbolized a connection between heaven and earth. Similar ideas are found in the Old Testament – trees symbolized wisdom and life.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, German tradesmen began to hold parties where a spruce was placed inside a home. Another story tells of how the German theologian and reformer, Martin Luther, put candles on the leaves as symbols of the stars twinkling among the forest’s trees. In the 17th century, the tradition of decorated Christmas trees in connection with festivities spread out to the German towns, and from there, to other parts of Europe.
Even if the first Christmas tree in the USA, perhaps, can be traced all the way back to 1777, Christmas trees did not become popular in the USA until the middle of the 18th century. An image of the English royal family standing in front of a Christmas tree was copied and brought to the USA in 1850. This resulted in the American upper classes embracing the Christmas tree. In the following decades, the tradition of Christmas trees in living rooms became popular among the rest of the population.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Why Are Red And Green Colors of Christmas?

Evergreen plants, like Holly, Ivy and Mistletoe have been used for thousands of years to decorate and brighten up buildings during the long dark winter. They also reminded people that spring would come and that winter wouldn't last forever!
The Romans would exchange evergreen branches during January as a sign of good luck. The ancient Egyptians used to bring palm branches into their houses during the mid winter festivals. In many parts of Europe during the middle ages, Paradise plays were performed, often on Christmas Eve. They told Bible stories to people who couldn't read. The 'Paradise Tree' in the garden of eden in the play was normally a pine tree with red apples tied to it.
Now the most common use of green at Christmas are Christmas Trees.


As mentioned above, an early use of red at Christmas were the apples on the paradise tree. They represented the fall of Adam in the plays. Red is also the color of Holly berries, which is said to represent the blood of Jesus when he died on the cross. Red is also the color of Bishops robes. These would have been worn by St. Nicholas and then also became Santa's uniform!

Gold is the color of the Sun and light - both very important in the dark winter. And both red and gold are the colors of fire that you need to keep you warm.
Gold was also one of the presents brought to the baby Jesus by one of the wise men and traditionally it's the color used to show the star that the wise men followed.
Silver is sometimes used instead of (or with) gold. But gold is a 'warmer' color.

White paper wafers were also sometimes used to decorate paradise trees. The wafers represented the bread eaten during Christian Communion or Mass, when Christians remember that Jesus died for them. White is used by most churches as the color of Christmas, when the altar is covered with a white cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church Gold is used for Christmas).

Blue

The color blue is often associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. In medieval times blue dye and paint was more expensive than gold! So it would only be worn by Royal families and very rich people. Mary was often painted wearing blue to show she was very important.
Blue can also represent the color of the sky and heaven. During Advent, purple and sometimes blue is used in most churches fort he color of the altar cloth (in the Russian Orthodox Church red is used for advent).

Monday, December 19, 2016

Is There A Pickle On Your Tree?



The tradition of the Christmas Pickle has got to be one of the strangest modern Christmas customs in that no one is quite sure why it exists at all!
In the 1880s Woolworth stores started selling glass ornaments imported from Germany and some were in the shape of various fruit and vegetables. It seems that pickles must have been among the selection!
Around the same time it was claimed that the Christmas Pickle was a very old German tradition and that the pickle was the last ornament hung on the Christmas tree and then the first child to find the pickle got an extra present.
However, the claim that it's an old German tradition seems to be a total myth! Not many people in Germany have even heard of the Christmas Pickle! (Similarly in Russia virtually no one knows the supposedly Russian story of Babushka!)
Some families now have the tradition of hanging the pickle on the tree, with the first person/child to find it getting a present. But it probably didn't start in Germany!
There are two other rather far-fetched stories linking the pickle to Christmas.
One features a fighter in the American Civil War who was born in Bavaria (an area of what is now Germany). He was a prisoner, and starving, he begged a guard for one last pickle before he died. The guard took pity on him and gave a pickle to him. The pickle gave him the mental and physical strength to live on!
The other story is linked to St. Nicholas. It's a medieval tale of two Spanish boys traveling home from a boarding school for the holidays. When they stopped at an inn for the night, the evil innkeeper, killed the boys and put them in a pickle barrel. That evening, St. Nicholas stopped at the same inn, and found the boys in the barrel and miraculously bought them back to life!
There is an old legend about St. Nicholas rescuing boys from a barrel but the barrel was originally holding meat for pies - not pickles!
So it's most likely that an ornament salesmen, with a lot of spare pickles to sell, invented the legend of the Christmas Pickle!
The American city of Berrien Springs, MI (also known as the Christmas Pickle Capital of the World) has an annual pickle festival held during the early part of December.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Progress on Advent Knitting

I love this time of year; especially when I can relax and knit on my advent pieces.  There is something peaceful about these knitting projects.

Once I figured out the way of Mosaic knitting,
I'm on a roll!  It's fast and easy to knit.

This could be a male scarf with the colors I chose.
I know it's comes across as brown against this white
but trust me...

It's really a burgundy color--I wish I had used different
colors, but it is what it is
and I live with it.  This pattern is designed by Mosaic Advent Scarf 2016


The other Advent scarf is coming along nicely--
I enjoy knitting lace and this one will 
make a nice warm scarf for someone special

I wish--why do I always second guess my choices?--
I'd used lace weight yarn instead I
chose ..................

Fingering weight yarn--it does make a difference!
Fingering vs lace



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Pan de Jamon--Traditional Venezuelan Bread

After Thanksgiving we had lots of leftover ham!  I'm not a big fan of ham!  Ham sandwiches were made!  I baked a ham quiche!  There was ham for breakfast!  And there was still plenty of
ham leftover!  Gee whiz, was it multiplying in the refrigerator?

Then it hit me--there was a jar of green olives in refrigerator too and I remembered this delicious bread
that was made when we lived in Venezuela--Pan de Jamon!
I had to find that recipe and make that bread.
Here is the recipe I came up with:

Pan de jamón is a traditional Venezuelan Christmas bread, but you can enjoy it any time of the year. A sweet, soft dough is rolled up around savory ham, sweet raisins and pimento-stuffed olives. The result is like a gift from heaven.
1 loaf, enough for 4 to 6 people

INGREDIENTS

  • Warm milk -- 3/4 cup
  • Butter -- 4 tablespoons
  • Sugar -- 2 tablespoons
  • Salt -- 1 teaspoon
  • Active dry yeast -- 1 (1/4-ounce) package
  • Lukewarm (110°F) water -- 1/4 cup
  • All purpose flour -- 3 1/2 cups
  • Egg, beaten -- 1
  • Butter, melted -- 2 tablespoons
  • Ham, thinly sliced -- 1/2 pound
  • Raisins -- 1/2 cup
  • Pimento-stuffed olives -- 1/2 cup
  • Egg yolks -- 2

METHOD

  1. Add the milk, 4 tablespoons butter, sugar and salt to a saucepan and heat, stirring until the butter is melted and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to lukewarm.
  2. Mix the warm water and yeast together in a small bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
  3. Add 3 cups of the flour to large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the yeast mixture, warm milk and beaten egg. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients and bring the dough together.
  4. Remove the dough to a floured work surface and knead, adding extra flour as needed, until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands and is silky and elastic. Remove the dough to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm corner until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface and punch it down with your fists to deflate it. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 15 inches long.
  6. Brush the top surface of the dough with the 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Spread the the ham, raisins and olives evenly over the dough, leaving a margin of about 1 inch around the edges. Starting from the bottom, roll the dough up into a loaf. Pinch the seam and fold under the ends to seal.
  7. Place the loaf seam-side down on a baking sheet and cover it lightly with a clean towel. Set aside to rise for another 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Beat the egg yolks with a tablespoon of water. Brush the top of the loaf all over with the egg yolk wash. Place the bread in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown on top and has a hollow sound when you tap on it. Remove and cool before serving.
Guess what?  There is still ham leftover!!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Fruitcake--Yes Or No?





The oldest reference that can be found regarding a fruitcake dates back to Roman times.  The recipe included pomegranate seeds.  Pine nuts, and raisins that were mixed into barley mash.  Honey, spices, and preserved fruits were added during the Middle Ages.  Crusaders and hunters were reported to have carried this type of cake to sustain themselves over long periods of time away from home.
 1400s – The British began their love affair with fruitcake when dried fruits from the Mediterranean first arrived.
 1700s – In Europe, a ceremonial type of fruitcake was baked at the end of the nut harvest and saved and eaten the next year to celebrate the beginning of the next harvest, hoping it will bring them another successful harvest.  After the harvest, nuts were mixed and made into a fruitcake that was saved until the following year.  At that time, previous year’s fruitcakes were consumed in the hope that its symbolism would bring the blessing of another successful harvest
In the early 18th century, fruitcake (called plum cakes) was outlawed entirely throughout Continental Europe.  These cakes were considered as “sinfully rich.”  By the end of the 18th century there were laws restricting the use of plum cake.
Between 1837 and 1901, fruitcake was extremely popular.  A Victorian “Tea” would not have been complete without the addition of the fruitcake to the sweet and savory spread.  Queen Victoria is said to have waited a year to eat a fruitcake she received for her birthday because she felt it showed restraint, moderation and good taste.
It was the custom in England for unmarried wedding guests to put a slice of the cake, traditionally a dark fruitcake, under their pillow at night so they will dream of the person they will marry.
 
Do you have a fruitcake on your Christmas table?









Thursday, December 15, 2016

Why Poinsettias?


The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.[10] In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl, meaning "flower that grows in residues."[10] Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as Flor de Noche Buena, meaning Christmas Eve Flower.[10] In Spain it is known as Flor de Pascua or Pascua, meaning Easter flower.[10] In Chile and Peru, the plant became known as Crown of the Andes.[10] In Turkey, it is called Atatürk's flower because Atatürk, the founder of the Republic, liked this flower and made a significant contribution to its cultivation in Turkey.[citation needed]
The plant's association with Christmas began in 16th-century Mexico, where legend tells of a girl, commonly called Pepita or Maria, who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday and was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar.[11] Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias.[12] From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.[13] The star-shaped leaf pattern is said to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, and the red color represents the blood sacrifice through the crucifixion of Jesus.[14]

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

What About That Kiss?

The history of mistletoe, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, is long, strange, and full of contradictions. Certain varieties are poisonous, for starters, and ingesting their toxic white berries has been known to cause a host of stomach problems (some poison control centers send out "holiday safety" fliers every year). Yet Hippocrates used other types of mistletoe to treat menstrual pains, and through the centuries it's been enlisted to fight leprosy, infertility, epilepsy, and even cancer. Then there's the plant's semi-parasitic nature. Mistletoe, a relative of sandalwood, attaches itself onto other trees to steal its host's water and nutrients. Unlike sandalwood, however, mistletoe seeds are dispersed by berry-eating birds, which allows the plant to grow on branches high above the shade, freeloading on other trees' sunlight. Mistletoe has been called a symbol of virility. According to Smithsonian Magazine, its seeds are coated in a semen-like substance that allows them to stick to tree branches once dispersed by birds — allowing a new mistletoe plant to dig into the host tree and begin to take shape.
Why, then, do we kiss each other under bunches of the devious, toxic plant every Christmas?
The common explanation says that early Christians integrated mistletoe into their celebrations as the religion spread across third-century Europe. The rationale predates the early Christians and goes back to the Norse god Baldur — second son of Odin, god of truth and light — who was so beloved by the other gods that they sought to protect him from all the dangers of the world. His mother, the goddess Frigg, "took an oath from fire and water, iron and all metals, stones and earth, from trees, sicknesses and poisons, and from all four-footed beasts, birds and creeping things, that they would not hurt Baldur." And thus the beautiful god was deemed invincible. What does this have to do with mistletoe? Bear with us...
At a large gathering soon after, stones, arrows, and flame were all flung at Baldur to test his might. Nothing worked, and he walked away unscathed. Jealous of Baldur's new powers, the mischievous Loki set out to find the one thing on Earth that might be able to hurt him. He found that the goddess Frigg forgot to ask mistletoe — tiny and forgotten — not to harm her beloved son. In the end, a dart fashioned from the little plant was used to murder Baldur in front of all the other gods who loved him so dearly.
Frigg, of course, was devastated. Steve Whysall at the Vancouver Sun explains that the tears of Baldur's mother became the berries of the plant, and it was decreed that "mistletoe would never again be used as a weapon and that she would place a kiss on anyone who passed under it."
And thus we hang mistletoe underneath our doorways come the holidays — so that we never overlook it again.  In my youth, we could buy mistletoe plants on the street corner during holiday season.  Also, friends who lived near woods would shoot down mistletoe from the trees--it was a way to practice their aim.

More fun facts about mistletoe:
Birds can eat mistletoe berries, but they're highly toxic to humans.
  • Approximately 20 species of mistletoe can be found on the endangered species list.
  • Celtic Druids believed that mistletoe contained the spirit of the tree in which it grew; this was the only part of the tree that stayed green all winter.