IT'S THE WEEKEND: Festive mistletoe is growing in popularity

South Wales Argus: (2875822) (2875822)

IT'S a symbol of peace and harmony, is known to encourage a few kisses at Christmas and is sure to bring a festive feel. HAYLEY MILLS looks at how mistletoe can be used in the home this winter.

CHRISTMAS is coming and many people will be using mistletoe to add a festive feeling to their homes.

The plant is a hemi-parasitic shrub, which grows on the stems of other tree or shrubs, which becomes its host plant.

It is a symbol of everlasting life because it stays green and bears fruit in winter

It is native in Great Britain and much of Europe, and used to be considered a pest that killed trees that had become its host after draining it of water.

Now, it is recognised as an important source of food for animals, that depend on the plant for food.

Despite little clinical evidence, there have been claims that mistletoe extract has an anti-cancer effect.

Herbalists use mistletoe leaves in medicine and it is popular in Europe for treating high blood pressure and circulatory problems after being made into a tea.

The plant is surrounded by folklore, with Romans believing it had peace-making powers.

It is also a symbol of peace and harmony, which grew into a kissing culture.

Legend has it that a girl who refused to be kissed underneath the mistletoe would remain an unmarried maid.

Homeowners would place a spring from the ceiling or in a doorframe to sneak a kiss with a passing neighbour.

Kissing under the mistletoe was first documented in 16th Century England, a custom that became very popular.

Mistletoe is commonly used as a Christmas decoration, with European mistletoe having green leaves and white berries.

The manager of Sunnydale Garden Centre, Treherbert Road, Croesyceiliog, Philip Taylor explained that they will be stocking mistletoe this December as they do every year.

He explained that the plant has grown in popularity in recent years.

He said: “It’s very popular now as people are turning towards traditional Christmas decorations, and even the sales of traditional Christmas trees are on the up.

“People do a lot of make your own decorations and see it as an achievement when they can see what they have created and it looks better than having plastic decorations.”

He explained that people use off cuts and a variety of plants including mistletoe to create decorations as it’s a fun family activity.

He said: “We stock it through December as it becomes very popular for the office parties but I don’t think I have to explain why.”

The garden centre have used mistletoe as part of its store decoration, and will be getting fresh batches in throughout Christmas from its stockist, which is a farm in Monmouthshire, who deliver it fresh on a weekly basis.

Victorians made mistletoe balls to steal a kiss from an unsuspecting person passing under it.

You can easily make your own to decorate your home this Christmas, either hand it in a hall way, in a doorway or from a fire place.

Simply take the mistletoe complete with the berries and some extra greenery and wrap the ends with wire.

Then take the wire end and stick it into a foam ball.

Other decorations can be added to the ball in the same way, maybe some Christmas themed cut outs.

Attach a loop of wire into the top of the ball that will be used to hang it by threading a piece of ribbon through the loop,

If you’re feeling really creative, experience with different size, variety of evergreens and decorations.

You can also ties bunches of mistletoe together using ribbon and use it as bunting on the Christmas tree or just place it around the home.

You can also make a mistletoe wreath by arranging it in a circle along with other ever-green plants and fixing it into shape with wire.

Remember it will be hanging when you finish it, so all of the plants should be facing the same direction.

A big sprig of mistletoe can be hung from the bottom, and the ribbon for hanging placed at the opposite side of the ring.

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