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From ancient days long past, mistletoe has been a magical and mysterious plant in European folklore. The ancient Greeks all the way to the Druids believed the leaves could bestow life and fertility, as well as protect against poison. During the Middle Ages, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward away evil spirits. It was also hung above doorways to prevent witches from entering.

Mistletoe is now perhaps best known for its Christmas connections, as tradition has it that couples must kiss beneath a sprig of the plant. This most likely originates from the earliest known precursor of the Christmas holiday, a Roman festival called Saturnalia. Any girl these days who stands beneath the mistletoe cannot refuse a kiss. And for any girl who stands beneath the mistletoe yet remains unkissed, tradition indicates that they will never marry!

Preview the lesson material:

Warm Up: Discuss the question with your partner for five minutes.

  1. What do you know about Christmas traditions? Please discuss.

Comprehension Questions: Answer the questions before/after your read the article.

  1. Only the Greeks and druids used mistletoe for medicinal purposes.  T / F
  2. People in the Middle Ages used the plant as protection against witches.  T / F
  3. A woman cannot refuse a kiss if she stands under mistletoe at Christmas.  T / F
  4. A girl must kiss beneath the mistletoe, else she must refuse marriage.  T / F

Discuss: Discuss these questions with a partner. Remember to support your answers.

  1. Does your country have any traditions with mistletoe? Please explain.
  2. Does your country have any unique holidays and/or traditions? Please explain.
  3. The article mentions marriage and unkissed girls. Do you believe in such superstitions?

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