The first real Christmas tree, as we know it, was introduced in Germany, in 1611, by the Duchess of Brieg.According to the legend, the Duchess of Brieg had already decorated her castle to celebrate Christmas, when she realised that in one corner of the room it remained completely empty.For this reason, she ordered a fir tree from the castle garden to be transplanted into a vase and brought into the room. The delicious scent of the majestic tree spread throughout the room, the Duchess loved it. In France, however, the first Christmas tree was decorated in 1840 by the Duchess of Orleans. The tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas, was already widespread before 1600 in the European regions north of the River Rhine, areas where the Protestant doctrine was more popular than the Catholic one. It was mainly the Prussians, the “predecessors” of the Germans, who contributed to the diffusion of the Christmas tree. In Tallinn (Estonia) in 1441, a large fir tree was erected in the town hall square, around which unmarried men and women danced in search of a soul mate.
Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?
The Druids attributed great power to the mistletoe. Being an aerial plant, which has no roots but lives attached to the trunk of other trees, it was considered a manifestation of the gods living in the sky; touching human earth meant losing one’s precious powers. If Mistletoe is used well it has healing and miraculous effects, if it is used badly it could be poisonous.Mistletoe is defined “The Moon plant”, thanks to its white and milky berries, which almost shine in the dark. The mistletoe was also the plant associated with the Anglo-Saxon goddess Freya (or Frigga), wife of the god Odin and protector of love and lovers. The Legend is that Freya had two sons, Balder and Loki. The second, bad and envious, wanted to kill the first one, good and loved by everyone. Freya tried to protect Balder and asked Fire, Water, Earth, Air and all the animals and plants to swear their protection for her son safety, and so they did.Loki, discovered that his mother did not ask for protection for Balder from a plant, which lived neither above nor below ground, the mistletoe. Intertwining the branches of this plant he made a sharp dart, he gave it to the blind god of winter, who pulled it from his bow and fatally hitting Balder. All the elements of Earth and Heaven were saddened by the death of their beloved Balder, and for three days and nights they tried to bring him back to life with all their strength, but they did not succeed. Freya, resigned and desperate, cried all her pain on her son’s body. Magically, the mother’s sincere tears, in contact with the mistletoe dart, became the pearly berries of the plant and Balder resumed life. So Freya, full of happiness, thanked anyone who passed under the tree on which the mistletoe grew, with a kiss.From there on, the goddess wants those under the mistletoe to kiss, to have her eternal protection, a symbol of life and love that also defeats death.
This symbolism has been maintained and the mistletoe means luck, protection and love. The mistletoe is used during Christmas as a gift and as decoration on packages or to hang on doors inside the house. It is believed to be a good omen for anyone who walks underneath it and for lovers who kiss beneath it, as it will keep their problems and difficulties away from them.
If during the Christmas period a girl who is under the mistletoe is not kissed by her beloved, she will not marry for the whole year to come.