No Christmas would be complete without holly, ivy and mistletoe. Yet, tradition says that these need to be carefully handled, or they can bring bad luck as well as good. For example, they can only be brought into the house or church on Christmas Eve, and must be removed by Twelfth Night, which is on the 6th January.
According to tradition, if you decorate your home with Christmas greenery too soon, the following twelve months will be plagued by quarrels. The use of evergreens is ancient and goes back to pre-Christian times and the Roman fest of Saturnalia. Mistletoe was a sacred plant to the Druids and it was adopted by the early Christians, although it was never ever used in a church. This unusual plant was used to protect people from fire, injury and evil spirits. On occasion, it was even hung in barns to protect farmyard animals from harm.
Mistletoe was often used to predict the future, particularly in relation to love matters. For example, you were supposed to keep the sprig of mistletoe for year. Just before you hung up the new bunch you were supposed to burn the previous year’s sprig; if it burnt strongly your relationship should be sound. If it sputtered and was reluctant to burn, then your partner was likely to be ill-tempered.