Winter kisses under the mistletoe

By | Category: Travel destinations

Misteltoe Queen

Mistletoe is great for warming up winter with kisses – so wrap up warm and make your way to Tenbury Wells Mistletoe Festival on 3rd December 2011, National Mistletoe Day!
American author Washington Irving wrote in his “The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon”:
“The mistletoe is still hung up in farm-houses and kitchens at Christmas, and the young men have the privilege of kissing the girls under it, plucking each time a berry from the bush. When the berries are all plucked the privilege ceases.”
It seems like us British no longer ration our kisses!
Mistletoe, although found throughout Europe, flourishes with lush berries amongst the apple orchards in the cider-producing valleys around the Teme Valley (it is particularly common in Herefordshire and Worcestershire). Masses of bunches from Tenbury go to Scotland, Wales and Ireland (where mistletoe is only found in the north, and is rare) and all the way to America.
Tenbury’s Mistletoe Season is to be celebrated in a bigger-than-ever calendar of events, highlighting this evocative winter harvest of the plant which is steeped in tradition and folklore.
National mistletoe expert Jonathan Briggs, who lectures on the mysteries of the plant, said: “Tenbury mistletoe is in demand around the British Isles, as far as Shetland, and is ordered by discerning people in the United States and Canada seeking the best British mistletoe. One local trader once shipped it to South Africa.
“People can see the beauty of real mistletoe when they buy from their local florist, rather than putting up with plastic imitations. We must fight back against that – there’s no magic in plastic. There’s nothing like The Real Thing: it’s not just good for kissing; it’s good for England.”
The home – grown plant rewards those who buy British with superior quality, compared to imports from France. Local schoolchildren will be turning detective, tracking down stories to discover ‘who’s been kissing who’ under the Tenbury mistletoe, and how far and wide it decorates homes.
In terms of history, Tenbury’s Mistletoe Festival only began in 2004, when the traditional Mistletoe Auctions, Tenbury’s 100-year tradition stretching back to Queen Victoria’s naming it her ‘Little Town in the Orchard’, were threatened with closure. The local community worked with determination in order to ensure that this century- old tradition would continue, and so the Tenbury’s Mistletoe Season was born.
Related events started in mid-November and will continue until Christmas. Druid rituals take place to bless the plant, followed by the town’s traditional wholesale mistletoe auctions (held each Tuesday from 29th November), Lantern and Santa Parade, music and storytelling, Christmas lights switch-on, and the Mistletoe Ball.
An evening with world renowned storyteller Ben Haggarty in the Pump Rooms will set the scene on Saturday 26th November, and then the big day itself, a week today opens with a procession through the town by the Mistletoe Foundation at 2pm from the Rose & Crown to the Burgage, followed by a blessing ceremony and crowning of the Mistletoe Queen and Holly Prince. The day includes a multi-faith ceremony, mistletoe and craft sales. At 7pm Damh the Bard a Pagan musician from the Druid tradition, poet, and storyteller, will be performing in the Royal Oak.
Remember, National Mistletoe Day (endorsed by Parliament in 2005 and set to take place on 1st December (or the nearest Saturday) each year) can be celebrated everywhere – not just in Tenbury! So make sure that you buy some mistletoe this year, to keep the tradition going. (just make sure that this is always kept out of reach from your pets!)
For more general information on mistletoe click here.

Where to order Tenbury Wells Mistletoe:
Court Farm Mistletoe
The English Mistletoe Shop:
Tenbury English Mistletoe Company

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