Friday, December 4, 2009

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Stave Four: In Which We Meditate on Mistletoe


What's the one thing young, attractive people and older, extremely sad people do every year, without exception, at Christmas?

Try to desperately to get a kiss under the mistletoe.

But which is the desperate one?

It's the truth. You can try to chuckle and play it off like you know it's lame, but everyone wants a kiss under the mistletoe. For one thing, we can get some action without being creepy. I mean, hey, it's just a holiday tradition, nothing more. For another...well, no, I'm sure that's the main reason. And yeah, people try to be hokey about it. "Oh-ho, the mistletoe," people exclaim in odd voices, as though it's a tradition they're only honoring as a goof. But you like it. Admit it.

It seems odd, of course, that this tradition exists. Indeed, many times it seems as though the only thing keeping it alive is desperation and drunken Christmas parties. Think about it: what's so romantic about a plant whose berries would cause diarrhea if devoured? Some claim that its origins date back to Norse myhtology.

So there's this god Baldr, right? He's all about beauty and love and being happy and just, like, positive vibes, man. Ah, but Baldr and his mother, Frigga, keep having fucked up dreams about him dying, so Frigga forces all the objects of the world to never harm him. The only thing she does not force into this deal is Mistletoe, because it's too small and insignificant to do anything.

Loki learns this, and because he is the mischief-maker, he makes mischief out of this. He makes a spear out of mistletoe and gives it to Baldr's blind brother. The gods hurl stuff at Baldr for shits and gigs (don't we all have a friend like that?), and Baldr's blind brother throws the spear. It kills Baldr, Odin's son kills the blind one, Thor kicks a dwarf into the funeral pyre, and snake venom drips onto Loki's face after he is tethered to rocks.

Aw, crap.

Winter falls upon the all the lands, until the gods bring Baldr back to life. Frigga enchants the mistletoe, making it a sacred plant that would now bring love instead of death. They're opposites, you know. When we kiss under the mistletoe, it is a celebration of the resurrection of Baldr, a testament t mistletoe never harming another living soul, ever. Except, you know, for the diarrhea.

Today, it is best-known as the clue that tips off Selena Kyle and Bruce Wayne to each other's true identities in Batman Returns. For some reason, they like to recite an odd little rhyme about how "Mistletoe can be deadly, if you eat it/But a kiss can be even deadlier, if you mean it." Okay, so it doesn't really rhyme, but it feels like that's what they were going for. They make this discovery at the Christmas party held by department store owner Max Schreck, which is soon crashed by a vengeful Penguin. Christmas.

Oh, and here's something cool. Mistletoe can probe beneath tree bark so that it can suck up nutrients and water during a drought. Because of this, it is called...the vampire plant.

Not to be confused with the vampire fruit.

There's a very good reason
Why the holiday season
Is a wonderful time
For a boy and girl to fall in love

'Cause Santa and Cupid
Planned exactly what you did
When you kissed me by the mistletoe above

We stood there kissin' by the mistletoe
Tingle, tingle (tingle, tingle)
Mmm and away we go
Jingle, jingle
Kissin' by the mistletoe, love came to stay
And now it's Christmas every day

There's a heavenly treasure
More than money can measure
In the gift you get when you give your love
And I can tell
(kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss)

'Cause whenever it's Christmas
If I never get this much
He ran my heart I remember very well

We stood there kissin' by the mistletoe
Tingle, tingle (tingle, tingle)
Mmm and away we go
Jingle, jingle
Kissin' by the mistletoe, love came to stay
And now it's Christmas every day

I said now it's Christmas every day
Oh yeah
And now it's Christmas every day

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Oh bloody bloody Christmas traditions. Once you learn all of those strange origin stories it makes you realize all the reasons people have evolved to love the holiday without question... there's action, adventure, murder, mayhem, magic, creepy old dudes that come into your house (santa), ancient norse mythology, old christian ideals, some stuff about a baby (jesus?), weird tales of an interspecies relationship (angel and mary)... and rudolph... a reindeer with a giant red nose. A red nose? What does that mean? Oh and trees... what cool yule!!