Au Gui l’An Neuf ou Bonne et heureuse année à vous.
La saison voulant que le gui abonde, on en cueillit dès le Moyen Âge pour l’offrir avec ce souhait : « Au gui l’an neuf », formule qui fut remplacée plus tard par « Bon an, mal an, Dieu soit céans » (soit dans la maison). Au XIXe siècle on disait « Bonne et sainte année, le paradis à la fin de vos jours », expression modernisée au XXe siècle en « Bonne et heureuse année ».
Mistletoe grows all over northern France and on six of the seven continents. It’s those balls in the bare trees that you think might be nests at first glance. It is a parasite but rarely kills the host trees and thus is not a pest. Ecologically it is an important plant as it provides food and shelter for many species. An study in Australia mentioned in the NY Times compared forest parcels with mistletoe to parcels from which mistletoe had been removed. The study suggests that mistletoe is important to all creatures of the forest because of it’s evergreen leaves amongst the deciduous trees. The parcels with mistletoe had more birds, mammals, reptiles and insects thus generally healthier and with greater diversity.
Mistletoe has lived on Earth for millions of years and was considered as a sacred plant by the druids who believed it to have miraculous properties. Moreover, whenever enemies met under the mistletoe in the forest, they had to lay down their arms and observe a truce until the next day. Hanging a ball of mistletoe from the ceiling thus became a widespread custom, and exchanging kisses under it was a sign of friendship and goodwill.
Nowadays, the custom of exchanging a kiss under the mistletoe still exists in many European countries as well as in Canada and the US, with different interpretation: for a couple in love, it is a promise to marry, as well as a prediction of happiness and long life.
In France, the custom linked to mistletoe used to be reserved for New Year’s Day: «Mistletoe for the New Year» (Au gui l’An neuf), but today, kisses can be exchanged under the mistletoe any time during the holiday season.
Q) What did the astronaut get when the rocket fell on his foot?
A) Mistletoe! hee hee