‘Kissing under the mistletoe is as strong as ever and I’ve had a bumper crop of the plant at my Midland farm’

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We chat to Mark Adams at Eastham Court Farm in Tenbury Wells about his bumper crop of mistletoe

There’s no need to whine about the mistletoe this season – it’s officially a bumper year.

Following a succession of unusually dry summers, 2023’s downpours have led to super sprigs. Lucky individuals will be kissing under the healthiest mistletoe for years.

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And many of the bundles hanging from Birmingham pubs and clubs have been provided by “Mistletoe” Mark Adams whose Eastham Court Farm, Tenbury Wells, is at the very heart of the tradition.

Mark makes cider and his thousands of apple trees are a mass of mistletoe, which is actually a parasite. The plant loves apple trees and Tenbury Wells – real cider country – is seen as Britain’s mistletoe capital for the same reason.

Mark, head of KissMe Mistletoe, said: “You could call it a bumper year in terms of quality because it’s been wet.” His team began gathering mistletoe on November 11 and, like everything else, costs have increased. “The costs have gone up,” he said, “because it’s very labour intensive to cut mistletoe down.”

Mistletoe | arybickii - stock.adobe.com

Mistletoe kissing tradition as strong as ever

But the tradition is as strong as ever and brisk business was done at Tenbury Wells’ Mistletoe Festival, staged earlier this month. “I did worry Covid would change things,” said Mark, “that the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe would change, but it’s as strong as ever. Afterall, mistletoe is older than Christmas.”

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It’s a curious tradition that has its roots in Norse legend. God Loki killed Baldr with an arrow made from mistletoe – to the horror of his fellow gods. They decreed from that moment the plant should symbolise love not death. As a homage to Baldr, any couple passing under mistletoe exchanged a kiss.

In Britain, that didn’t catch on until the late 1700s when kissing balls made from boxwood, holly and mistletoe became a popular window decoration. A lady caught under the bundle couldn’t refuse a kiss, increasing her chances of marriage

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