Cabinet of Curiosities is a series meant to explain some of the most prevailing mysteries out there. A lot of these "curiosities" involve seriously confusing scientific studies, so we're trying to break it down into layman's terms. Because nobody has time to decipher an entire science experiment when looking for a quick explanation online.
This week, we're answering Steven Geghardt's holiday-themed question about the origins of kissing under the mistletoe.
Mistletoe, in the strictest scientific terms, is a parasite. It grows on the branches of host trees, stealing water and nutrients from them while simultaneously using them as a gateway to fresh sunlight. Based on this information alone, it's far from a symbol of romance or undying love.
So how, then, did this plant come to represent smooching by the warm fire, plus so many of our other favorite festivities of the holiday season? Long story short, it took a couple centuries.
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