Holiday traditions

Those simple, sweet and meaningful little holiday traditions like kissing under the mistletoe, hanging tinsel from the tree and roasting chestnuts by the fire used to be so prominent and supported by most of society just years ago. Now these holiday traditions are becoming less and less supported in the average American household.

One is only prone to wonder where all these traditions came from and why certain ones have faded and are less meaningful. An old saying about mistletoe is that whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day. This is where the tradition of hanging mistletoe from the doorway came from. Exchanging kisses under it was a sign of friendship and goodwill.

Mistletoe is a plant that has no roots of its own and lives off of the tree that it attaches itself to without that tree it would die. So much about this plant gets overlooked, literally as it hangs in the doorway and figuratively as society is no longer aware of the real history of this plant. Mistletoe was an important part in some Greek and Nordic myths and legends. Back then, the plant was viewed as sacred by ancient Greeks. But today this plant is used for the sole purpose of decoration.

According to Encyclopedia Brittanica, Balder was the son of the chief god Odin and his wife Frigg. Handsome and cunning, he was the favorite of the gods. His death is the common topic of discussion. Icelandic legends tell of how the gods were amused by throwing things at him just knowing that he was immune from harm. The blind god Höd killed Balder by hurling mistletoe, the only thing that could actually bring him harm. Then after Balder’s funeral, the giantess Thökk held in the tears that could have saved Balder from death.

Like the mistletoe, most people also do not take into appreciation all of the symbolism represented through some of today’s society’s way of celebrating Christmas and other holidays toward the end of the year. You could give any little kid a candy cane and the likely reaction would be to suck on it without any preconceived thought regarding the piece of candy or what it means.

According to, candy canes were first given in the form of a cane shape in 1670 by a German choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral. It is supposed that he gave the children in his choir sugar sticks that were bent like a shepherd’s staff to keep them quiet during the longer church services. Ever since then, the tradition of giving out candy canes during Christmas spread throughout Europe and has made its way to the United States and is now a permanent part of our culture and traditions.

Most are unaware of the symbolism in the end of the year holidays as the history of our traditions slip into nostalgia and each generation is born to expect the traditions to make their way into their holidays as each of them celebrates in their own way. The items quickly slip onto their plates and on their shelves and into their mouths as the symbolism seems to vanish from existence.