Being kissed under the mistletoe has been a Christmas tradition for more than a thousand years. But mistletoe is not only associated with a gentle kiss, it has a lore all its own.
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that lives off trees. It has attracted human attention for thousands of years because, in the depth of winter, it is green. That made it a natural for legend and ritual, especially fertility rituals.
The actual kissing under the plant may have begun with the Greeks in their agricultural festival, according to The Wall Street Journal, but its kissing properties continue to this day where, as the old song puts it, we can see mama kissing Santa Claus.
To the ancient Scandinavians, mistletoe symbolized peace. Enemies meeting under the mistletoe declared a truce until the following day. On a more domestic note, disgruntled spouses kissed and made up under the greenery.
The Druids believed mistletoe possessed magical powers. Their priests cut the plant with golden sickles and gathered the trimmings on white cloth so the plant would never touch the earth and lose its enchantment.
The French didn’t like it. They said mistletoe was cursed because it grew on the wood from which the cross of Christ was made and that it was doomed to be a rootless parasite forever.
In the Middle Ages, mistletoe was hung from ceilings in Europe to ward off evil, or it was dangled over doors to prevent the entrance of witches. If mistletoe was suspended over a crib, the child was said to be safe from kidnapping.
Viking lore describes the goddess of love, Frigga, who made each plant and animal promise not to kill her son Baldur. She forgot the mistletoe plant and Baldur was killed by a spear made from it.
The white berries on the mistletoe are said to have been created from her tears.
When her son returned to life, Frigga proclaimed the mistletoe to be sacred. She kissed everyone who passed under it and decreed the plant should henceforth bring love. This is said to be the origin of kissing under the mistletoe.
So go ahead. Kiss under the mistletoe, have fun doing it, and give a nod to Frigga for starting a very enjoyable custom.
How to create a Christmas village
A miniature Christmas village is the perfect decorative piece to add to your home for the holidays. Here are a few tips to help you create an enchanting display your whole family will love.
Take some time to reflect on the elements that will make up your village before you go out and buy anything. For example, you’ll want to opt for figurines and buildings from the same brand to ensure everything in your village is proportional. Be sure to include:
• Moving parts. Animated features such as a skating rink, cable car, train, windmill, or merry-go-round will bring your village to life and draw the eye to various sections.
• Infrastructure. Streets, bridges, and walls will provide structure to your village and help you organize the buildings logically.
• Accessories. Benches, fire hydrants, street lamps, trees, flag poles, birds, and other details are essential to creating a realistic display.
First, you need to choose a spot for your village such as under the Christmas tree or on a fireplace mantel. The location should give you enough room to create depth and varying heights in your display. If certain features need to be plugged in, make sure there’s an electrical outlet nearby.
To maximize your village’s wow factor, test out several configurations (with the lighting turned on) and choose the option that best showcases each element. Use risers, boxes, or books to elevate sections of the village as needed. Once you’ve settled on the layout, add the streets, artificial snow, and accessories. If there are wires, make sure they’re hidden.
Finally, place the figurines near street lamps or illuminated buildings, so they’re visible in the evening too. If some areas of the village are in shadow, add a miniature spotlight or a tiny strand of string lights.
If you keep these tips in mind, your Christmas village is sure to become a holiday essential.
3 weeks before Christmas: Preparations continue
Time flies, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Before you curl up in front of the fireplace or put on a holiday movie, there are a few important tasks you should see to.
• Choose holiday party outfits for the whole family, and make a quick run to the store if needed
• Confirm how many guests are coming, and create a seating arrangement to accommodate everyone
• Buy non-perishable food for the party such as chips, nuts, and canned goods, and stock up on alcohol for the adults and drinks for the kids
• Pick up any gifts that still need to be purchased
• Wrap your presents or, to save yourself some time and support a good cause, have an organization take care of your gift wrapping as part of a fundraiser
A generous way to wrap up your holiday shopping
The holidays are an ideal time to be generous in supporting local charitable organizations. Fortunately, gift-wrapping fundraisers present an easy way to contribute to the causes in your community. Simply look for kiosks set up by charities in your local stores and malls. For a small fee or suggested donation, a volunteer will expertly wrap your presents. Here are a few good reasons to support them:
• Your money will go to a good cause, and you’ll benefit from a useful service — it’s a win-win situation.
• You won’t need to purchase and store your own wrapping paper, gifts bags, ribbons, and bows.
• You’ll enjoy greater personal satisfaction knowing you contributed to the well-being of your fellow citizens.
• You won’t have to worry about finding a place to hide unwrapped gifts from your kids and spouse.
• You’ll be able to check an important task off your holiday to-do list so you can focus on preparing for the festivities and spending time with your family.
To further support your community this season, purchase your gifts from independent businesses and artisans in your region.
A green Christmas: eco-friendly decorating
Holiday decorations can help make Christmas feel like a magical time of the year. Here are a few ways you can make them more eco-friendly.
Invest in eco-friendly lighting
Brighten up the exterior of your home with LED lights and use a timer, so they don’t stay on all night. Alternatively, you can opt for solar-powered lighting. If you want to set the mood with candles, choose natural soy-based products.
Buy locally made items
Make your own decorations
Use natural materials like fallen branches, pine cones, and dried leaves to make your own seasonal decor. If you want to get the kids involved in holiday crafts, sort through your recycling bin for useful supplies like toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, and egg cartons.
Finally, be sure to buy your Christmas tree from a local farm that doesn’t use herbicides or pesticides. For an unconventional alternative, build your own by stacking books or using other common household items.
9 ways to connect as a family over the holidays
The holidays are an ideal time to connect with your kids and spouse. Here are nine great ways to spend quality time together.
1. Cook or bake
Whether it’s preparing a big meal or making treats for Santa, cooking is a great way to bond with kids of all ages.
2. Rent a cottage
3. Have a game night
An evening spent playing games is sure to be filled with laughter and excitement. Make a point to choose games that appeal to everyone.
4. Spend a day outdoors
The winter holiday is an ideal time to go snowshoeing, skating, skiing, tobogganing, hiking, snowmobiling or to simply build a snowman. There’s nothing like a day spent outdoors to help you create lasting family memories and smiling rosy faces.
5. Support a good cause
Working together to make a positive difference in the world is a fantastic way to forge stronger family ties. Spend some time picking a cause that speaks to you and your kids, and research the best way to support it.
6. Watch a movie
Choose a film or series that everyone in the family will enjoy, pop some corn and gather in the living room to share a couple of hours at home.
7. Make a family bucket list
Make a list of the fun activities that you, your spouse, and your kids want to do. Put your list in a spot where it’s visible to all (like on the fridge) and start crossing things off.
8. Plan a cultural or educational trip
There’s no shortage of things to do that are both fun and educational, from going to zoos and planetariums to visiting science and history museums.
9. Create a family survey
Put together a fun questionnaire tailored to the ages of your children to find out more about their likes, dislikes, hobbies, ambitions, and more. Ask about their dream job, which countries they’d like to visit, what they most wish for, and what their most cherished memories are.
However, you decide to spend time with your family over the holidays, the important thing is that you’ll be together.
Women’s fashion: 5 styles to try for a stand-out holiday look
The holidays are an ideal time to experiment with bright tones, bold fabrics, and showy trim. Here are a few ideas to inspire a dazzling look.
Put an ephemeral twist on classic pieces by opting for a dress or shirt with feather trim or a blouse with puffed feather sleeves. For a more moderate take on this bold look, consider a playful feather purse or earrings.
Recreate the shimmer of a starry night sky by wearing a chiffon blouse adorned with silver sequins. Balance the metallic sheen with a sophisticated color like navy or charcoal. Or embrace an all-out silver-inspired look by slipping on a long-sleeved lurex dress in this festive hue.
From subtle gold threading and oversized chain-link jewelry to gorgeous metallic cocktail dresses, there are plenty of stylish ways to incorporate this classic holiday color into your look.
5. Balloon sleeves
These short, wide statement sleeves are a playful nod to the bubbly bottles of Champagne that are sure to make an appearance over the holiday season. The voluminous sleeve design pairs well with chic straight-leg trousers but makes an even bolder statement on a colorful sheath dress.
For glamorous pieces made of quality materials, visit the shops in your area.