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The James T. Callow Folklore Archive

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BURNING BUSH

THE PINSETA FLOWER, WHICH IS WELL KNOWN DURING CHRISTMAS TIME,
IS ORIGINALLY FROM MEXICO[ AND WAS CALLED THE BURNING BUSH. IT
WAS BROUGHT TO THE UNITED STATES BY SECRETARY OF STATE PINSET
IN THE LATTER PART OF THE 19TH CENTURY. THE LEGEND BEHIND THE
BURNING BUSH IS THAT A SMALL MEXICAN BOY WANTED TO BRING JESUS
SOMETHING, BUT HE WAS TOO POOR. ON HIS WAY TO CHRIST'S MANGER
HE SAW A BRIGHT RED FLOWER, AND HE TOOK IT AND GAVE IT TO JESUS.
THE FLOWER SUDDENLY BECAME SO BRIGHT THAT IT LIT UP THE ENTIRE
MANGER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: PROSE NARRATIVE -- Plant
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Gifts, gift giving at Christmas

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

IT IS A WIDESPREAD AND WELL-KNOWN CUSTOM THAT A PIECE OF MISTLETOE
IS HUNG FROM DOORWAYS, CHANDELIERS, CEILINGS, ETC. AS A CHRISTMAS
DECORATION. IF A MAN AND WOMAN SHOULD BOTH HAPPEN TO BE STANDING
UNDER THE MISTLETOE, THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO KISS. IF ONE OF THEM IS
UNDER THE MISTLETOE ALONE, THE OTHER MAY COME UP TO KISS THEM.

Submitter comment: THIS IS PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST WIDESPREAD OF CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS.
PEOPLE PROBABLY FOLLOW IT BECAUSE IT IS FUN AND FITS IN WITH THE
FESTIVE HOLIDAY MOOD.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

James Callow Keyword(s): PLANT PARASITIC

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 25 Christmas Also see F642, below.
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: CA00001966

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CHRISTMAS KISSING BALL-CUSTOM

THIS IS A BALL THAT SERVES THE SAME PURPOSE OF THE BETTER
KNOWN MISTLETOE. IT IS A BALL OF RED OR GREEN SATIN WITH BEADS
ON IT. IT IS USUALLY HUNG ON A CHANDELIER OR LIGHT FIXTURE.

Submitter comment: (THIS WAS TOLD BY AN EASTERN UNIVERSITY COED OF POLISH DESCENT.)

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- Fixed DateFor specific dates, use the following system: F640.1225
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 12-04-1967

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MISTLETOE

IT IS TRADITIONAL THAT IF A BOY SHOULD CATCH A GIRL (OR VICE VERSA)
UNDER A SPRIG OF MISTLETOE SHE HAS TO KISS HIM.

Submitter comment: CHRISTMAS DAY

Where learned: NOT RECORDED

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: NOT RECORDED

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

THE GERMANS HANG A WREATH OUTSIDE THE DOOR AND HANG MISTLETOE
OVER THE DOOR ON THE INSIDE OF THE HOUSE DURING THE CHRISTMAS
SEASON.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; RENO HALL ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 11-14-1968

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CUSTOM FESTIVAL

MISTLETOE USED TO GET A KISS.

Where learned: HOME

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 10-07-1968

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

WHEN SOMEONE STANDS UNDER A MISTLETOE, THE FIRST PERSON OF THE
OPPOSITE SEX WHO ENTERS SHOULD KISS THE PERSON STANDING UNDER THE
MISTLETOE.

Submitter comment: LEARNED IN CHILDHOOD WHEN THE EXPERIENCE HAPPENED TO ME.

Where learned: NOT RECORDED

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: NOT RECORDED

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CHRISTMAS TRADITION (AND NEW YEARS)

AROUND THIS TIME OF YEAR, IF ONE COUPLE STANDS UNDERNEATH A SPRIG
OF MISTLETOE THEY MAY KISS EACH OTHER.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 11-00-1969

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CHRISTMAS

THE CUSTOM OF HANGING MISTLETOE ENABLES A PERSON WHO FINDS ANOTHER
STANDING UNDER IT TO KISS THEM.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 10-14-1969

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CHRISTMAS BELIEF

IF YOU STAND UNDER MISTLETOE AT CHRISTMAS TIME, SOMEONE WILL
COME AND KISS YOU.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

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MISTLETOE

MISTLETOE IS HUMG OVER DOORWAYS, SO THAT IF A GIRL STANDS UNDER
THE MISTLETOE, ANY MALE IS ALLOWED TO KISS HER.

Submitter comment: FROM MY CHILDHOOD

Data entry tech comment: CHRISTMAS TIDE ASSUMED

Where learned: NOT RECORDED

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: NOT RECORDED

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

IN NEW MEXICO TUMBLEWEED IS PILED IN A CONE SHAPE AND DECORATED IN
PLACE OF EVERGREENS.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM HER DAUGHTER WHO IS LIVING IN NEW MEXICO.

Where learned: NEW MEXICO

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

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CHRISTMAS CUSTOM

SETTING THE TABLE AT CHRISTMAS--
12 VARIETIES OF FOOD - 12 APOSTLES
STRAW ON TABLE FOR CHRIST CHILD
EMPTY CHAIR - FOR CHRIST CHILD OR UNEXPECTED GUEST.

Where learned: HOME ; MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 24 Christmas Eve Christmas
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Straw

Date learned: 11-18-1967

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MEDIEVAL THERAPY FOR INFERTILE WOMEN CONSISTED OF DRINKS
MADE FROM MISTLETOE.

Submitter comment: THIS RESULTED INTO TODAY'S CUSTOM OF A KISS AT CHRISTMAS
UNDER THE MISTLETOE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; FERNDALE

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
BELIEF -- Plant
SPEECH -- Gesture

Date learned: 10-01-1988

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MISTLETOE

DURING THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS, MISTLETOE IS HUNG FROM
CHANDELIERS, ARCHWAYS, ETC. WHEN A PERSON STANDS
UNDER THIS MISTLETOE, THE FIRST PERSON OF THE
OPPOSITE SEX TO COME UP TO SUCH PERSON, IS TO KISS
HIM OR HER.

Submitter comment: LEARNED FROM PARENTS WHEN VERY YOUNG.

Where learned: OHIO ; CANTON

Keyword(s): PARASITE ; poison ; POISONOUS PLANT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 11-27-1967

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THE VIKINGS HAD A YULE SEASON IN WHICH THEY DECORATED
THEIR HOUSES WITH GREENS FROM FIR TREES. THIS EVENTUALLY
BECAME THE CHRISTMAS SEASON AND THE GREEN USED FOR
DECORATIONS EVOLVED INTO USING THE WHOLE TREE.

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Christmas tree

Date learned: 11-11-1968

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IT IS A CUSTOM AT CHRISTMAS TIME TO KISS A MEMBER OF
THE OPPOSITE SEX IF HE CATCHES YOU UNDER MISTLETOE.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 04-01-1967

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MISTLETOE HANGS IN THE ROOM WHEREUPON SOME MEMBERS OF
THE GROUP COMES AND KISSES SOMEBODY STANDING UNDER
THE MISTLETOE.

Submitter comment: SHE SAID THAT SHE LEARNED IT "PROBABLY AT A
CHRISTMAS PARTY OF SOME RELATIVES WHEN (SHE) WAS VERY
SMALL."

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT ; COLLECTED AT UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 02-08-1967

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CHRISTMAS TRADITION

AS A CHILD, MY NEIGHBOR WOULD ALWAYS DECORATE THE FIRE-
PLACE WITH GREENS AND STOCKINGS ALONG WITH HER
PARENTS. THEY ALSO MADE SURE THAT A FIRE WAS ALWAYS
KEPT IN THE FIREPLACE DURING THIS SEASON.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED IT FROM HER PARENTS.

Where learned: HOME

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Stockings and shoes
CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Yule log

Date learned: 11-00-1967

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CHRISTMAS TRADITION

FOR CHRISTMAS, THIS FAMILY HANGS UP MISTLETOE FOR
DECORATION ONLY. NOTHING HAPPENS WHEN YOU WALK
UNDER IT.

Submitter comment: INFORMANT LEARNED IT FROM HIS PARENTS.

Where learned: MICHIGAN ; UNIVERSITY OF DETROIT ; DETROIT

Subject headings: CUSTOM FESTIVAL -- December 21 solstice to March 20 Mistletoe and other greenery

Date learned: 11-00-1967

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