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Under the Mistletoe

Once a year, tradition dictates that we head out into the forest and seek out mistletoe, which we then hang in our houses somewhere so we can trick people into kissing us by leading them to a spot underneath the plant.  This is great news for people with chronic halitosis or a compulsive affinity for garlic or some other condition that makes us less likely to get kissed, but for the rest of us, it’s maybe not such a boon. But how did all this start?
Let’s start by defining just what mistletoe is.  Mistletoe is a hemiparasitic plant that grows in trees, usually.  The term hemiparasite means that it gets part of its nutrients from the host plant, but still provides some of its own nutrients through its own means.  Like other green plants, mistletoe can perform photosynthesis, turning sunlight into nutrients. It just can’t do that enough to sustain itself.  Though the mistletoe tradition comes from Europe, there are literally hundreds of different varieties of mistletoe all over the wor…