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Mistletoe growing on a tree

Holly and ivy make good looking decorations at Christmas time, but if it's kisses you're after, then mistletoe is the only winter greenery guaranteed to get you some lip-puckering action.  Now the leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees it's easier to spot the pom-pom shaped clumps of mistletoe growing on their branches.

Back in the 1600's people used to remove one of the white berries from the mistletoe every time a kiss was claimed.  When the berries ran out, so did the kisses.  Kissing beneath the mistletoe is still as popular as ever, but the berry removal ritual has faded with time.  This probably isn't such a bad thing, as nowadays you get a lot more kisses per sprig.

There's no doubt that mistletoe has been the catalyst for thousands of romances over the centuries, but where the tradition originated is still a bit of a mystery.  It may have been started by the Druids who saw mistletoe as a sexual symbol, because of the consistency and colour of the berry juice.  They believed that the plant could impart fertility if taken as a drink or tied about the body.  The results must have been a bit hit or miss as mistletoe berries are actually toxic.

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