There is wide belief in country lore that discourages the use of woods (cut branches) in flower decorations. Many people believe that to bring cut wood over the threshold invites back luck, danger or even illness into the home. So steeped in superstition is this act that it is often rare in some places to find shrubs near to either the front or back doors of houses or cottages. The reason being that a piece of branch might accidentally snap off and be carried over the step without the knowledge of the occupier. Rose bushes, lilacs, and woodbine are therefore planted several feet away from any entrance.
Only soft green stems may be used in posies and bunches of flowers. Some people go so far as to ban cut roses and honeysuckle. Blackthorn and May blossoms have always had links to disaster and so are not seen in vases. Although maidens who got married during the month of May often picked the tips containing the blossoms of the hawthorn and wove them into a head adornment. It has to be remembered that there is an old saying that many use even today - “Marry in May and rue the day.”
It has to be wondered with such superstitions, how did holly, mistletoe and ivy ever come to be used as decorations during the Winter time. Not widely known but many people would keep these decorations for a full forty days before removing them from their homes. Decorations made from woods should not be removed until Candlemas Day – the second day of February.
To bring good luck into a household – make a small nick into the branch of a tree and gently rub a mistletoe berry into the crack - juice, pips and skin. Tie around the crack with either straw, hay or cotton threads and leave in place for one week. Remove the tie after seven days. Await to see if the mistletoe grows a shoot. If it does, then so comes good luck for the person who has planted it. (Must be worth a try for those who have some mistletoe!)
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant – it lives off other plants usually trees (oak and apple are probably the most common) and obtains its nourishment through the sap of the tree it lives on. It was used as a fertility symbol many years ago (now only seen as ‘kissing under the mistletoe’) and has medicinal properties. It was best know for treatment of arthritic conditions and high blood pressure. It is known to contain histamine, choline and viscotoxin. Recommendation – don’t use mistletoe to treat your own ailments best advice – see a doctor!