Collecting the folklore and uses of plants


Columbia Rd 22 Dec 13 0151. Mistletoe on sale, Columbia Road Flower Market, Tower Hamlets, London, Sunday 22 December 2013.

2.[Newcastle-under-Clun area, Shropshire] Holly and mistletoe should not be brought into the house before Christmas Eve [Sandiway, Cheshire, October 2004].

3. A sprig of mistletoe hanging over the front door for kissing beneath [Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, October 2004].

2014-12-04 19.37.544. My grandfather insisted upon having enough sprigs of mistletoe with berries to place in every barn or farm-building as well as his house every Christmas. These sprigs remained in position until the following Christmas when they were replaced with new ones. This was a good luck charm to ensure prosperity and economic solvency for the ensuing year. My grandfather’s farm was in the Buxton area of Derbyshire and he had Scandinavian ancestry. I don’t believe there were other people following his custom and only my mother and I have continued his practice. But since I moved to Lincolnshire I’ve talked to old people – particularly farmers and wildfowlers – who have heard of this belief [Holbeach, Lincolnshire, January 2003].

5. I was born in Reepham, Norfolk, in 1925 … Always keep one berry on the mistletoe which was brought indoors at Christmas. This was kept safely until the following Christmas, and was said to guarantee there would always be a penny in the house. (It did not work for us) [Luton, Bedfordshire, January 1997].

0226. Mistletoe – a must for Christmas; a kiss beneath it was supposed to foretell a wedding [Chesham, Buckinghamshire, September 1995].

7. At Christmas mistletoe was left hanging until next Christmas, when it was replaced by a new piece [Nuneaton, Warwickshire, June 1994].

8. It amuses me to see you over here having mistletoe indoors at Christmas; my father in the Basque country wouldn’t allow it indoors – he believes it brings bad luck [Natural History Museum, London, July 1991].

9. From the Basingstoke [Hampshire] area, from my grandmother and school friends:
Mistletoe – a pagan plant, so must never be taken into a church [Maida Hill, London, December 1982].

10. I am in my seventies; a few [old fashioned cures] were used for various complaints when I was a child … Mistletoe from hawthorn bushes for measles; this was made into tea (horrible) [Yeovil, Somerset, October 1975].

Images: main, decorating the Pump Room, Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire, November 2015; middle inset, mistletoe for sale, £3 a bunch, Crewkerne, Somerset, 4 December 2014; lower inset, mistletoe growing on false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), Hampton Court Palace, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, March 2015.