Romance aside, this poisonous pretty was considered a "plant of peace"
No more than two generations ago an unassuming plant helped to decorate nearly every home during Christmas gatherings. A little bundle of leaves and berries was tied together with red ribbon and hung from the door jamb between dining and living rooms; the perfect spot for gals and guys passing beneath to sneak a holiday kiss.
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe goes back hundreds of years, and folklore tells of its symbolic meaning of fertility and peace. It’s thought that the earliest association was with the Roman festival of Saturnalia, celebrating the abundance and fertility of the earth, and later with primitive marriage rites for fruitfulness. In Scandinavia, it was considered a plant of peace, under which enemies could declare a truce—and from that model, offered a way for warring spouses to kiss and make-up. The symbolism of unity was easily translated into Christian beliefs of forgiveness, charity, and devoted love.
The mistletoe, Phoradendron tomentosum, is an evergreen plant that grows into the bark of tree limbs, often where the limbs fork and moisture collects. Birds are the primary means of planting, eating the berries and spreading seeds through their waste. Mistletoe, like most plants, produces food through its leaves by photosynthesis; parasitically it relies on the host plant—the tree—for water and minerals.