19 Dec2009


“Everybody knows, a turkey and some mistletoe, help to make the season bright…” I figured some marketmanila.com readers may not be familiar with mistletoe and it is very rarely available in Manila, hence this post. Our fresh mistletoe supply from Sister arrived very early this morning, through the kindness and inside the luggage of a weary traveller. A bunch of the mistletoe now hangs over our front door, so anyone caught underneath it can be excused for a kiss/smooch. :) A little remains so one can go running around the crowded malls dangling the mistletoe over unsuspecting heads and seeing if it will cast a spell… :) So what the heck is mistletoe, why does it literally translate as “dung-on-a-twig” and why do people kiss when underneath it?


Click on the link above for more detailed information on mistletoe if that interests you, but here is what is printed on the back of the package that it arrived in…

“It all started with a goddess called Frigga. her son, Balder, was shot with an arrow made of mistletoe. Frigga’s friends succeeded in conjuring up powers to save the boy. Balder lived anew and Frigga ordered that the mistletoe should never again be used to harm. Instead, she made it a sumbol of love by kissing anyone who passed under it.” Yeah, right. :) And finally, this last piece of trivia from the same link above: “And for those who wish to observe the correct etiquette: a man should pluck a berry when he kisses a woman under the mistletoe, and when the last berry is gone, there should be no more kissing!”



  1. Mila says:

    Doesn’t sound too romantic if the boy has to be paying more attention to the disposal of berries than to the girl he’s kissing.
    If mistletoe has white berries, what are the red berries and dark green leaves one sees as a form of decoration during xmas? Are they from the yew tree?

    Dec 19, 2009 | 5:29 pm


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  3. Marketman says:

    Mila, I think you are referring to holly berries, as in “boughs of holly”… photo here.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 5:48 pm

  4. jdawgg says:

    Hey Marketman,

    All this time I’ve looking forward from Santa Claus to bring me a “mistletoe belt buckle” so far he haven’t come through for me. So for me who, what and where is “Santa”? Is he a man or a woman? Considering he’s name starts w/Santa referring to a female? just a thought, give me your feedback.


    Dec 19, 2009 | 6:01 pm

  5. sister says:

    From Portland to NYC, up past Boston to Manila, that’s a long way for mistletoe to travel to your front door!
    Bty the way, I was at the flower market yesterday and they had foot long branches of mistletoe available. First time I’ve seen that. Just in case you have to hang some in a ballroom.
    We are awaiting a blizzard on the East coast, nothing like two feet of snow for Christmas.
    Wishing all Marketmanila readers a very happy holiday wherever they might be.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 6:20 pm

  6. atbnorge says:

    We have a big ball of mistletoe (almost three quarters of a meter) growing on the oldest apple tree in our yard. They are protected here in Norway and grow mostly in and around the area of the Oslofjord. I also heard of a story that when two enemies met under a mistletoe, the fight must be cancelled for the next day thus promoting peace because the heads of the warriors would have cooled off.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 7:26 pm

  7. sister says:

    Note mistletoe berries are toxic and come from a parasitic plant.

    Dec 19, 2009 | 8:41 pm

  8. Vicky Go says:

    @ sister: I hope forecasts are wrong. It’s supposed to have started at 10:00 AM, but didn’t start until 1:30 PM – w a very light dusting. It’s getting a bit heavier now & just starting to accumulate on surfaces. We’re just 30 min. directly west of Mid-Manhattan. Keeping fingers crossed & knocking on wood that we won’t get the 6 in to a foot & a half they said we would. Maybe storm veered further east off the coast. Heaviest hit is supposed to be Long Island – hope not!!!! Snow is nice only when fresh fallen – but it quickly turns to mud & slush especially in the city! And quite a travelling hazard whether on the road or in the skies!

    It’s just 4:00 PM here on Saturday 12-19-2009

    Dec 20, 2009 | 5:02 am

  9. sister says:

    Vicky Go, Not much snow in Manhattan yet, just a light dusting. Cousin in Faifax, VA says they already have 14″. Maybe storm will peter out tonight.

    Dec 20, 2009 | 6:51 am

  10. Delia says:

    @atbnorge: Do these turn brown during winter? I see some brown clumps of twigs on trees during winter and used to mistook them for abandoned birds nest.

    Dec 20, 2009 | 6:56 am

  11. kurzhaar says:

    There are many (hundreds of) species of mistletoe…they are parasitic plants and each species lives on a particular host plant. They usually don’t kill the host but weaken it and shorten its life span. Very common in California, even in the desert, often spread by birds that eat the berries and then poop out the seeds onto new victim trees. Mistletoes are also common plants in the tropics worldwide…ironic in view of your well-travelled sample!!

    Some mistletoes are quite toxic, so please watch out for dropped berries which pets or children may eat.

    Battened down for the East Coast blizzard!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 10:45 am

  12. psychomom says:

    9:44 pm, alas i see the dreaded snow flakes coming. my son is excited as this means play time outside. i see it as shovelling, shovelling and more shovelling. hopefully forecasters are wrong and we do not get the 6-12 inches as predicted. guess it will be a white christmas for us. Merry Christmas to everybody!!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 10:46 am

  13. millet says:

    MM, i hope the kind and weary traveller is yours and Mrs. MM’s most awaited Christmas visitor! Merry Christmas, MM and family!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 10:49 am

  14. Tina says:

    I saw some lovely lovely mistletoe when we went to the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market) here in Germany. They were selling them for 5 Euros a bunch! It was the first time I’ve seen one up close. Plus I also saw the actual tree, which is totally leaves-deprived, and the bunches of mistletoe looked like birds’ nest. Very neat! :)

    Dec 20, 2009 | 11:34 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Tina, actually they are parasites and attach themselves to the trees… :)

    Dec 20, 2009 | 2:18 pm

  16. Cynthia says:

    The mistletoe is indeed a parasite and a real pain to deal with. When I lived in California, I had several Modesto ash trees, all attacked by mistletoe. Regular removal of mistletoe was quite expensive. I much preferred my holly shrubs.

    The leafless tree that Tina saw was the mistletoe host after it had been preyed upon.

    Dec 20, 2009 | 2:53 pm

  17. Ley says:

    Thanks for the trivia MM! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 5:55 pm

  18. mek says:

    there’s a mistletoe station at the power plant mall :-)

    Dec 20, 2009 | 8:44 pm

  19. sister says:

    You might find some mistletoe on a tree in the Phiippines!

    Dec 20, 2009 | 9:08 pm

  20. James says:

    MM … you are quite right, holly has red berries and has the leaves with sharp points. When I was a child, we had a hedge made entirely of holly.

    Dec 20, 2009 | 9:30 pm

  21. psychomom says:

    we have a holly bush but no berries. i was told you have to have both “male and female” bushes in order for berries to grow. am trying to figure the sex of our bush???!!! would have bought one of each if we had known.

    Dec 20, 2009 | 11:59 pm

  22. kurzhaar says:

    There are many species of holly (Ilex spp.). I have a winterberry growing wild in my garden, quite beautiful with its brilliant red berries against fresh snow (of which we received close to 2 feet thanks to last night’s blizzard). Curiously the birds do not seem to care much for its berries, they don’t eat them until later in the winter…when, I suspect, they have little choice.

    Larger holly species are used for their wood, which is very pale (“holly wood”). We have an antique chess set where the white pieces are made of holly and the black of ebony. And of course it is a holly species used in South America for tea (yerba mate is an Ilex species).

    Dec 21, 2009 | 8:19 am

  23. AT says:

    Just note that the plant is poisonous… especially the leaves


    Dec 21, 2009 | 1:46 pm

  24. iya says:

    i have never even seen a mistletoe. ang lungkot. hanggang poinsettia pa lang ako. :p

    Dec 21, 2009 | 2:46 pm

  25. atbnorge says:

    @Delia, Heisann! It is so nice to find someone living in Norway here in MarketManila…Ja, I noticed they turn a bit yellowish brown when they begin to shed twigs and then they fall to the ground; but the main branches remain. Everytime I saw mistletoe twigs on the ground, I thought my son and his playmates were messing the “parasite” again. But it’s a natural occurence; then new twigs come out again. I actually have a small birdhouse (a little box with a small hole) beside the mistletoe and I get some “boarders” every spring.

    Dec 21, 2009 | 7:11 pm

  26. Tony says:

    Having spent at least ten Christmases in the Philippines, mistletoe is one of the things I miss about Christmas in England. I also miss logs burning on an open fire in the lounge, especially if they are from apple or cherry trees which smell gorgeous, holly with bright red berries and Christmas crackers which I have never been able to find here. Next year I will ask a relative in England to send me crackers, mistletoe and holly.
    I know that if we move back to England there would be some things I would miss about Christmas in the Philippines, like warm sunny weather and the whole noche buena thing. This year we had about about twenty people here that night of which about eleven were children.

    Dec 30, 2009 | 11:32 am


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