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Word for Wednesday: Mistletoe

Our Word for Wednesday theme for December is Christmas decorations.

decoration is something that is used to beautify a space. The word comes from the Latin ‘decorare’. 

So far, we’ve looked at the words nutcracker and bauble. Today’s word is mistletoe

Mistletoe is a plant with green leathery leaves that grows on trees including apples and oaks. In the winter, the mistletoe plant produces white berries. Though poisonous, mistletoe is often used to decorate with at Christmas time. 

The tradition of kissing under a mistletoe branch is attributed to servants in late-eighteenth-century England. In some versions, it was considered bad luck to refuse a kiss; in others, a berry was picked off the branch for every kiss until no berries remained. Mistletoe was also thought to ward off witches and demons in the Middle Ages. The plant has long been associated with fertility.  

The word comes from the Old English ‘mistiltan’, from ‘mistel’ meaning ‘mistletoe’ and ‘tan’ meaning ‘twig’. ‘Tan’ comes from the Proto-Germanic ‘tainan’.

Have you read our other Christmassy Word for Wednesday posts?

15 Dec 2021
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