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Ho-ho, the mistletoe, hung where you can see,
Somebody waits for you, kiss her once for me
Mistletoe is a parasitic plant that grows on trees. In some cultures, it's traditional to hang it up somewhere at parties, with the additional custom that if two people meet under it, they ought to kiss. Naturally, this produces some good opportunities for writers. Hilarity may well ensue
as the wrong people are caught under it, or as the "right" ones are maneuvered over by matchmaking friends. Some writers may indulge in a bit of Ship Tease
Mistletoe came to people's attention because it's evergreen and produces berries in winter, and is often one of the only green things in a winter forest. It comes up a lot in mythology - Greeks liked it, the Norse god Balder was killed by it, druids regard it as a symbol of immortality, and an old Christian story holds that Christ's cross was made of mistletoe, and after the Crucifixion all the mistletoe trees shriveled up. But the tradition everyone thinks of is originally Scandanavian - if two people are under a sprig of mistletoe, they must kiss. This was first a tradition that if two armies in a forest saw mistletoe growing, they stopped fighting for a night.
Despite the prevalence of this tradition, holly is frequently mistaken for mistletoe; holly has jagged, pointy leaves and red berries, while mistletoe has rounded leaves and white berries.
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- Used to wonderful effect in the Pokémon song "Under the Mistletoe." Misty wants it to happen, but Ash doesn't. Again, Hilarity Ensues. (Suffice to say, 4Kids are Pokéshippers.)
- This is Nozomi's big dream in Yes! Precure 5. She even slugs Kouji/Coco away stating this when their faces get close early on.
- In one issue of the yearly Marvel Holiday Special, The Avengers hosted a party. There was only one sprig of mistletoe, so Hank Pym put it on a remote-control hovering device and flew it around "to stretch it". Jessica Drew was not impressed.
- It should be noted that at least FIVE guys were in on it (including Spider-Man, while married, and Mary Jane IN THE ROOM), and she only suspects after about 4.
- In a Vertigo Winter's Edge special, a boy steals a kiss from a girl he's just met, then points above them and says, "Mistletoe". She responds by stamping his foot, pointing to her foot and saying, "Missile toes".
- During her first year with the X-Men, Kitty Pryde held a sprig of Mistletoe over Peter Rasputin's head during a Christmas party as an excuse to kiss him. Kitty remembered this moment sadly when she returned to the mansion in the first issue of Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men.
- In the original story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne (Uncanny X-Men #143), just before that moment there had been a darker twist on it: When Nightcrawler playfully kissed Wolverine's then-girlfriend Mariko on the cheek using the same stratagem, Wolvie flew into a rage and went after Kurt with his Adamantium claws and had to be restrained by Colossus and the Professor.
- Two years before that issue, the same artistic team had produced Marvel Team-Up #79, in which Mary Jane Watson crashed the Daily Bugle Christmas party and used the same trick to seriously smooch Peter Parker. Mary Jane seems to like this stratagem - in The Sensational Spider-Man Annual, the team of Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca showed a flashback episode early in their Jane's relationship where MJ tried to encourage Peter to kiss her by wearing a Santa hat with mistletoe hanging off it, but he chickened out. However, in both instances (and the one involving Kurt and Mariko), what was shown on-panel was actually holly and not mistletoe.
- Pick a fandom. Now pick a pairing. Now go on the Internet. No matter how nonsensical or unlikely, there will be a Fan Fic out there somewhere that uses this trope.
- In Harry Potter fanfics (of pretty much every ship), the mistletoe is often enchanted, magically trapping whichever couple that happens to be standing under it until they kiss. Often, these are created and supplied by the Weasley twins.
- In the fifth book, Luna notes that one should be careful around mistletoe, since "Nargles" live in them. Naturally, Nargles come up in a wide variety of stories, especially Luna pairings; often there's the idea that kissing somehow protects you from them.
- In The Ariana Black Series Professor Flitwick, apparently a Dirty Old Man in this universe, hangs mistletoe above the entrance of the Great Hall and won't let people through unless they "follow tradition." This includes Ron and Ginny.
- The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens:
From the centre of the ceiling of this kitchen, old Wardle had just suspended, with his own hands, a huge branch of mistletoe, and this same branch of mistletoe instantaneously gave rise to a scene of general and most delightful struggling and confusion; in the midst of which, Mr. Pickwick, with a gallantry that would have done honour to a descendant of Lady Tollimglower herself, took the old lady by the hand, led her beneath the mystic branch, and saluted her in all courtesy and decorum. [...] Mr. Winkle kissed the young lady with the black eyes, and Mr. Snodgrass kissed Emily; and Mr. Weller, not being particular about the form of being under the mistletoe, kissed Emma and the other female servants, just as he caught them. As to the poor relations, they kissed everybody, not even excepting the plainer portions of the young lady visitors, who, in their excessive confusion, ran right under the mistletoe, as soon as it was hung up, without knowing it!
- Harry Potter gets caught under the mistletoe with Luna Lovegood, and quickly jumps out from under it. Luna considers this a wise move, "it's often infested with Nargles." Harry later finally gets his first kiss with Cho Chang under the mistletoe.
- On the Discworld, the wizards of Unseen University hang up a mistletoe as part of their Hogswatch celebration. Archchancellor Ridcully notices this and wonders why, since the all-male faculty dismisses the women help before the main feast. Apparently it's symbolic; not symbolic of anything in particular, at least not that the wizards can remember, just sort of generally symbolic.
- Hercule Poirot, of all people, gets caught under mistletoe in "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding," on account of being too busy exercising his little grey cells to notice where he's standing. He doesn't seem to mind the result.
- A sprig of mistletoe is a central feature at the Campbell family Christmas celebrations in Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins. At one point, eldest cousin Archie is so caught up in the festivities that he kisses Phebe (the maidservant) under the mistletoe, then promptly apologizes. Later, during a game of forfeits, Charlie dares Rose (the only female cousin) to take "old Mac" under the mistletoe and give him a kiss; he means their cousin, but she cleverly gets around it by bestowing the honor on their Uncle Mac instead. When cousin Mac finds out what she did, he remarks that he probably wouldn't have minded if she had done what Charlie intended. This doubles as foreshadowing for both couples, since they (Archie/Phebe and Rose/Mac) fall in love in the sequel.
Live Action TV
- A running gag on the Colbert Christmas Special, was him and the each guest under the mistletoe with Colbert saying, "Well this is awkward," before being rebuffed for a kiss. He finally does kiss... a bear.
- Basil does this to Madison in one of the Christmas episodes of The Basil Brush Show. He kisses her, and gets a slap.
- Bones episode "The Man in the Fallout Shelter". Angela Montenegro:
[to Booth] *You* are going to kiss me under the mistletoe. On the lips.
[to Zack and Hodgins] I might kiss you guys under the mistletoe, too.
(to Bones) And maybe even you. In a festive, non-lesbian manner.
- Later, Booth and Brennan kiss under the mistletoe, at Caroline's insistence.
- Perfect Strangers episode "A Christmas Story".
Larry: Mistletoe. It's an old tradition. You hang it over the door and women *have* to kiss you.
Balki: What a gimmick! Why don't we hang it up all year long?
Larry: Unfortunately, it only works at Christmas.
- Christmas Special.
Ms. Yvonne: It's mistletoe! You're always supposed to kiss somebody if they're standing underneath the mistletoe! This way, I'm assured hundreds and hundreds of kisses from everyone!
- An episode of WWE RAW had Mickie James kiss Trish Stratus under the mistletoe. Trish freaks and runs off afterwards, because she is not a lesbian.
- A Christmas episode of Austinand Ally have the titular characters kissing under the mistletoe three times...only to be interrupted all three times.
- Kermit and Miss Piggy exchange rather sweet cheek kisses under the mistletoe in A Muppet Family Christmas.
- Kimberly and Tommy go through two false starts with this trope (Skull steals one kiss and Zordon unknowingly stops the second attempt to gather the team) before finally pulling it off in the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers Christmas special
- NCIS: Los Angeles has Nell (dressed as an elf!) steal a kiss from Eric under some mistletoe in "Free Ride".
- JAG: Harriet kisses Bud under a mistletoe she holds up out in the bullpen in "Jaggle Bells".
- Of course, the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".
- One verse in "Christmas at Ground Zero" by "Weird Al" Yankovic says, "I could duck for cover / With my Yuletide lover / Underneath the mistletoe."
- D-Generation X infamously attached mistletoe to thongs they wore into the ring, complete with "Merry D-X-mas!" written across their...assets. It wasn't called the Attitude Era for nothing!
- From the guy who wrote 1/0, some useful limerick aids on the difference between holly and mistletoe.
Traditional antidote for poison
Though most have an allergic reaction
The druids don't care
They're too busy shar-
-ing a kiss to compile reliable medical information."
- In the Christmas installation of Awkward., Alex attempts this with Lester using mistletoe lotion. A valiant attempt, but it's a no go.
- Cindy was less than thrilled at being woken up in Yogi Bear's Christmas special until she learned about the "catch a guy under mistletoe and he HAS to kiss you" tradition. Hilarity Ensues.
- In a Kim Possible Christmas special, Kim kisses Ron on the cheek under a makeshift mistletoe (it was a piece of parsley Ron found that Dr. Drakken tied a red ribbon around).
- In the infamous Ren and Stimpy episode "Son of Stimpy (Stimpy's First Fart)," Ren tries to cheer up a depressed Stimpy on Christmas. He points to the mistletoe over the doorway and makes goo-goo eyes at Stimpy, in the single biggest Ho Yay moment of the original series.
- In one episode of Ed, Edd n Eddy, Ed holds a mistletoe over Double Dee and tries to kiss him. In the Christmas special, Nazz holds mistletoe over her head and points out to Eddy about the tradition of people kissing under it, but he ends up spitting a mouthful of eggnog in surprise at her (which causes her to kick him out of her house).
- The Nightmare Before Christmas: "They kiss! Why, that looks so unique! Inspired!"
- In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Casey Jones tries to get a kiss from April O'Neil by having Raph and Angel (a human teenager friend of the turtles') put mistletoe up on a pulley and line so it would follow them across the room. April isn't amused, but she kisses him anyway.
- In the Christmas Special of Jackie Chan Adventures, Uncle points out that the villain Dolong Wong is standing under mistletoe. Wong looks up, sees it, and freaks; allowing Uncle to knock him out. The trope is played straight later with Jackie and Viper.
- In one of the earliest episodes of Tom and Jerry, which was of course a Christmas one, Jerry stops Tom from chasing him by holding up a mistletoe and making a cute smoochy face at him. Tom then blushes and turns away shyly, only to have Jerry kick him in the rear. Truly one of the biggest Foe Yay moments in the series.
- In Taz-Mania's Christmas episode, 'No Time for Christmas', there a mistletoe scene between Bushwacker Bob and Constance Koala. Same for Mr. Thickley the Kangaroo.
- In the Christmas special of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Spongebob points out to Patrick that Squidward is under the mistletoe, at which point he looks at the time and flees the scene.
- In the Venture Brothers Christmas episode, Pete White wears a sprig of mistletoe on a headband while putting the moves on Triana. She's not going for it at all, then her father magically incinerates it and runs Pete off with a warning glare.
- During the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Christmas Special, Eduardo ties a sprig of mistletoe to his horns so that he can go around kissing everyone. Bloo is not amused.
- In Phineas And Ferb Christmas Vacation!, Baljeet says that all he wants for Christmas is a pretty girl to kiss him under the mistletoe. Later on, Wendy Stinglehopper gives him his wish.
- The above picture of Candace and Jeremy comes from the music video for the series' version of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".
- In Futurama, Fry and Leela almost had a kiss under the mistletoe, until Robot Santa interfered.
: Your mistletoe is no match for my T.O.W. missile!
- Jenny holds up a mistletoe over Sheldon's head on My Life as a Teenage Robot in the Christmas special in order to give him his Christmas gift.
- In one episode of King of the Hill, Hank says there won't be any mistletoe at his family's Christmas party due to last year's unfortunate incident. Bill tries to justify himself by saying that "Peppermint Schnapps makes him sloppy."
- Smurfette gets a few kisses from her fellow Smurfs under the mistletoe in The Smurfs episode "Baby's First Christmas" and the cartoon special "'Tis The Season To Be Smurfy".