In a year best described as humbug central, perhaps the biggest holiday bummer is at hand. For obvious and unrelenting health-related reasons, there will be virtually no random smooching under any mistletoe anywhere. There you have it. What may be good for your health, is not going to be a balm for your heart or libido.
Not surprisingly, mistletoe has officially made it onto the naughty list for organizations and individuals alike as office parties, holiday gatherings and even large family gatherings get put on indefinite hold. Yes, there’s undoubtedly sound thinking behind moves to discourage people from randomly kissing others during a pandemic, but it is a bummer, nonetheless.
The ban is not only affecting the lonely and romantically ambitious, Britain’s Daily Mail reports it’s killing mistletoe farmers as demand for the crop plummets with the virtual ban on office parties, winter weddings and holiday gatherings.
Many countries, in fact, have enacted all sorts of guidelines and regulations to keep people safe during the holidays by limiting family events to small gatherings, promoting mask wearing and social distancing at dinners, and having lots of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes available for attendees. Professor Paul Hunter, a microbiologist at Britain’s University of East Anglia, went even further by demand lip locks be forbidden. And if people simply can’t avoid giving or getting a smack at the holidays, Hunter strongly advises toning it down.
“Kiss on the head, instead of the cheek – and not on the lips, as this would be higher risk for transmission. Teenagers are the highest risk because they usually have lots of social contacts – but most are unlikely to volunteer to hug their grandparents,” he warned.
Is there any real good new to be had around this mistletoe mayhem? Not much. But perhaps it helps to know that mistletoe is technically a parasite, named after bird poop, that can kill large, healthy trees by sucking nutrients out of them.
Feel any better? Didn’t think so. Take heart and hang on. Mistletoe is likely to make a roaring comeback in 2021. And as Washington Irving wrote 200 years ago in Sleepy Hollow and The Headless Horseman “the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up,”…will once again become “the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.”