Mistletoe has long been associated with smooches under the porch and kisses in the grotto. This Christmas season, however, we’re here to deliver some slightly less seductive news. The renowned plant may appear harmless, but in reality, it’s a resilient little parasitic organism that might be out to get you.
Normally, our knowledge surrounding mistletoe doesn’t stray much further from the classic kissing Yuletide tradition, but today we’re here to give you a much more extensive overview of this puckered up plant.
Mistletoe, despite masquerading as a bunch of glistening white berries and lush green leaves, is in fact a parasitic plant (hemiparasitic, if we’re being specific) that lives off of the nutrients and water it smuggles from its host tree. And while the plant won’t always kill the tree, it can significantly weaken it, feeding off the host for as long as it can—if that’s not a metaphor, I don’t know what is.
What’s worse is that, if the mistletoe spreads profusely, the tree will eventually die, one limb at a time, as the life is literally sucked out of it. However, mistletoe doesn’t take out whole forests like some diseases—just a tree here and there. So, unless you’re made of bark and branches, you should be safe to continue smooching nearby.
According to folklore—which these days translates to the internet—Frigga (also sometimes spelt Freya or Freyja), the Norse goddess of love, had a son named Balder, who was the god of innocence and light. To protect him, Frigga demanded that all creatures—even inanimate objects—swear an oath not to harm him, but she forgot to include mistletoe. This turned out to be a huge oversight as Loki, the god of evil and destruction, learned of this loophole and made an arrow from a sprig of the parasitic plant.
He then tricked Hoth, Balder’s blind brother, into shooting the mistletoe arrow and guided it to kill Balder. The death of Balder meant the death of sunlight—an ancient explanation for the long winter nights in the North.
Frigga’s tears fell onto the mistletoe and turned into white berries. She then decreed that it should never cause harm again but should promote love and peace instead. From then on, anyone standing under mistletoe would be bestowed with a kiss. Even mortal enemies meeting under mistletoe by accident had to put their weapons aside and exchange a kiss of peace, declaring a truce for the day.
So, it turns out that there’s actually quite a unique history behind this fabled tradition. But I probably wouldn’t recommend attempting to retell this story while standing underneath some mistletoe—might kill the vibe when you’re in for some smooches.
Christmas is a happy time for the entire family, including your furry friends. Naturally, you want them to have a Christmas just like yours! If your puppy has been a good boy all year, sitting nicely for his Advantage flea treatment and playing nice with the other dogs at the park, he definitely deserves a proper Christmas dinner. In this article, we will show you how you can create a safe, pet-friendly Christmas dinner for each one of your animal babies.
Dogs can be a bundle of energy at Christmas, whether that be opening presents and chasing the wrapping paper around the living room or playing with their new toys. So, why not let them join in on dinner? For the main event, you can create them their own nutritious meals. Turkey is a good option to give them—put some of the leftover white, lean meat without any bones on their plate. Steamed vegetables are healthy for them as well, just as they are for humans. Try giving them the unwanted Brussels sprouts, and the bits you can’t force the kids to eat such as carrots and parsnips. Be sure to keep the carrots and parsnips plain for easy digestion—your dog won’t appreciate a honey glaze!
If you want them to join in for dessert too, you can’t give them human chocolate, but you can get doggy chocolate they will enjoy just as much!
Cats are always circling our legs when we are trying to cook, so rather than tripping up over them, distract them by giving them their own dinner plate of festive food. They may like a bit of the salmon starter you might be having, and just like dogs, they can also have the lean, white turkey meat.
Greens like those pesky Brussels sprouts and peas that may get leftover are also good for them. Also, just like dogs, they can join in with dessert with their own kitty chocolate.
You may want to put some of the dinner leftovers out for the birds in your garden. Seeing a robin will make the day even more festive, after all! Or you may even have some birds as pets, and you want them to join you at the dinner table.
You can treat them to any of those leftover festive favourites, such as mince pies and Christmas pudding; basically, anything with fruit in, they will love! So, you can also leave out a handful of dry fruit and nuts you may have got as a present.
When clearing your plates if you end up having any leftover roast potatoes, give them to the birds too—they will love them. Of course, be careful not too put too much food out, and try to keep it elevated on a bird table, otherwise, you might attract other visitors to your garden, such as foxes!
For the smaller, furry members of the household who are vegetarian, you can share your greens, carrots, and spouts with them. For a fruit dessert, they could have a couple of grapes off the side of the cheeseboard. Your rabbit will love their own little bit of Christmas they can join in on!
When giving presents to an animal at Christmas, think of practical presents their owners can use through the year, such as a puzzle food bowl, which stops animals from eating too quickly and helps stop bloating. For dogs who like to go on long walks or are very energetic, you could get them a dog water bottle, which is specially designed to allow dogs to drink from them easier than human bottles. Christmas should be a fun time for the family, so make sure your furry babies are as safe as your human ones.