What is the origin of mistletoe?
The scientific name for mistletoe is Phoradendron, meaning “tree thief”. Mistletoe is commonly used as a Christmas decoration, popularized by its bright white berries and green foliage during the Christmas season when other vegetation has turned brown. The custom of kissing under mistletoe may be a carry-over from an older custom requiring enemies who met under a clump of mistletoe (whose extract is extremely poisonous) to disarm, embrace, and refrain from combat.
Mistletoe is actually an agent of death in more ways than having poisonous leaves. It is a parasite which burrows its wedge-shaped roots into the limbs of host trees and gradually sucks all of the moisture and nutrients out of its host. With each passing year, the tree weakens and produces fewer leaves while the mistletoe spreads and produces more leaves. Eventually the only green left upon the tree are the mistletoe leaves. Once this happens, the mistletoe also dies. Why would evolution develop a process which automatically results in the organism’s own death?
Parasites exist only because we live in a fallen, death-filled, sin-influenced world. Plants such as mistletoe would not be expected from evolutionary processes, but they testify to the reality of an intelligent designer who allowed death to enter creation because of mankind’s actions. Yet, this same Designer entered into creation as a babe in a manger, Jesus Christ, in order to conquer death by taking that penalty upon Himself. He then rose victorious over death. This is the real message and meaning of the Christmas season.
Have a blessed Christmas in celebration of the Savior!
(Source: Inspired Evidence – Bill Gothard, Character Sketches Vol. 3, 1985 p.147)