Mistletoe in France: Remembering Christmas From Home

It took a bit of time to identify what I was trying to photograph on our trip to France in March.  With spring just starting, there were no leaves on the trees. I could spot round clumps of bright green leaves high up in the boughs of mature trees. I finally got my answer – mistletoe.  This plant with its round white berries provides romantics with a chance to kiss beneath it at Christmas time.  When we were travelling a little later on our Return To Vimy Trip in April, another month of growth revealed its bright leaves and it growing robustly.  Many clumps were growing in a tree hanging above the Canadian War Cemetery in Dieppe on the sunny day we visited.  It was the first time I was able to look at it really closely. The white berries are just starting to form. The parasitic nature of mistletoe can overtake the host tree but often it is part of a complex ecosystem and its presence supports other creatures in its vicinity.  It made me wonder if mistletoe was growing in the trees in northern France 100 years ago during the Great War.  I found these photos that capture, that in spite of the war, soldiers were still trying to embrace the spirit of Christmas. 

 A Nottingham paper image of two soldiers carrying mistletoe on their rifles at Christmas 1914.

A Nottingham paper image of two soldiers carrying mistletoe on their rifles at Christmas 1914.

 Behind the line in Bailleul, France, soldiers buying mistletoe.

Behind the line in Bailleul, France, soldiers buying mistletoe.

 Mistletoe boughs hanging above the Canadian War Cemetery in Dieppe.

Mistletoe boughs hanging above the Canadian War Cemetery in Dieppe.

 Mistletoe's white berries can be seen in early spring.

Mistletoe's white berries can be seen in early spring.