Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. At New Year's, we often decorate with sprigs of mistletoe hung high to fulfill a tradition that transcends cultures and centuries. In old England, a cluster of mistletoe was called “The kissing bunch”. Tradition has it that one can steal a kiss from another caught beneath the mistletoe. The tradition came to us from the Celtic Druids and was probably part of a Celtic marriage ceremony performed at the time of the winter solstice. Mistletoe provides the only green among leafless branches of deciduous trees in winter, providing ancient peoples with a promise for renewal of life in spring. The name 'mistletoe' comes from the Celtic word ‘misteltan’ meaning 'dung twig,' referring to the association Celtic peoples made between mistletoe and the droppings of birds. An association that is correct in that birds are usually responsible for spreading the seeds of mistletoe. Mistletoe is found around the world and includes more than 400 different species, including two from Florida. Most mistletoes are semi-parasitic; they produce some of their own nutrients through photosynthesis, but also attach themselves to many different kinds of trees and take nutrients from them.
'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.