There are far too many other mistletoe traditions to describe them all here – but I’ll add a few of other older ones, and then finish this section of the website with some more modern mistletoe ideas – which are already seen as ‘traditions’ by many.
Other old traditions
One popular version of this suggest that mistletoe brought into the house at Christmas/mid-winter/New Year (depending on your custom) should be kept hanging for a full 12 months.
This will protect the house from evil and prevent evil spirits from entering. The old mistletoe can be ceremoniously burned after new mistletoe is brought in.
Mistletoe as a State and County flower
Oklahoma State Flower: Each State in the USA has a State Flower, and for Oklahoma that flower is (or was) Mistletoe.
Not our classic European Mistletoe, Viscum album, of course, but a local species, Phoradendron serotinum. This is a white-berried species particular common in the southern regions of the state.
As a state emblem it has a long history, being adopted in 1893, 14 years before the Territory became a State. But it has always been the ‘odd one out’ amongst State Flowers, not least because it was chosen for its distinctive berries not flowers. And there was unease about having a parasite as a state emblem.
In 1986 Oklahoma also adopted a State Wild Flower; Indian blanket Gaillardia pulchella and in 2004 the Oklahoma Rose, a cultivar of Rosa odorata, was made the State Flower in place of mistletoe. Mistletoe is now officially the ‘State Floral Emblem’.
Herefordshire County Flower: In the UK, whilst there have been many informal traditions of regional floral emblems, there was no formal scheme until Plantlife’s County Flowers campaign in 2002.
People were asked to nominate and vote on wildflower emblems for each UK County.
Mistletoe, despite not having particularly interesting flowers, was nominated in several counties in its core SW Midlands regional stronghold (see Distribution pages) but it was Herefordshire, which is arguably the best place to see mistletoe in the UK, that won the mistletoe honour.
National Mistletoe Day and the Mistletoe Queen
But in 2004/5 the owners of the wholesale market site in town announced they were closing the site and leaving town – which could mean the end of the mistletoe auctions which had been such a traditional feature and economic draw in the run-up to Christmas
A small group got together to think of other ways to keep the mistletoe traditions alive in the town, and continue to draw visitors in each season. The result was the Tenbury Mistletoe Festival which now runs alongside the auctions (still continuing but at an out of town location).In order to ‘make’ the Mistletoe Festival several new ‘traditions’ were quickly established and now, 6+ years later it seems as if they’ve always happened.
They include National Mistletoe Day – set to be December 1st each year but usually defaulting to the first Saturday in December. Formalising this was difficult but organisers wrote to several MPs requesting endorsement of the idea and it was duly proposed in an Early Day Motion in Parliament. Several MPs supported the idea and no-one objected, so we took that as approval.
Another fixture is the Mistletoe Queen, crowned on National Mistletoe Day. She is the Head Girl of Tenbury High School and is accompanied by the Holly Prince, the Head Boy. This ‘tradition’ already seems as if it is long-established, despite being less than 10 years-old.
In the last few years Druids from the Mistletoe Foundation have also taken part in the Festival, with a new multi-faith mistletoe blessing ceremony.