There is a golf course along the Loire between Blois and Amboise. From the road, we could see trees where the mistletoe was low enough to pick easily. When we got there, we found three freshly cut branches on the ground. Someone else must have had the same idea as us! In the Middle Ages in France, mistletoe was was given to friends at the beginning of the new year with the wish Au gui l’an neuf which is the corruption of an earlier Celtic expression meaning “may the wheat germinate”. It was later replaced by bon an, mal an, Dieu soit céans (good year, bad year, may God be with you) and in the 20th century by bonne et heureuse année ([have a] good and happy year).
Sur la route le long de la Loire entre Blois et Amboise il y a un golf. On voyait de la route des arbres où le gui semblait pousser assez bas pour le cueillir. En arrivant sur place, on a trouvé par terre trois branches nouvellement coupées. Quelqu’un d’autre a dû avoir la même idée que nous! Au moyen âge on offrait le gui avec ce souhait: “Au gui l’an neuf”, qui provenait d’une expression celte (o ghel an heu) voulant dire “que le blé germe”. Ces paroles ont été replacées plus tard par “bon an, mal an, Dieu soit céans et, au XX” siècle par “bonne et heureuse année”.
6 replies on “Mistletoe for New Year – Au gui l'an neuf”
Thanks for that interesting snippet. The tradition is a bit different to the British one, where you are supposed to kiss under the mistletoe. I bet the origins of hanging mistletoe in the house at this time of year is the same though.
There are a lot of very pagan traditions attached to mistletoe.
Kissing under the mistletoe is also an American tradition. But my question is, why would “good year / bad year” be a new year’s wishing ?! Final question, are you going to try to propagate that mistletoe at your place ?
Stuart, I forgot the second half of the expression :). I’ve corrected the “bon an mal an” to “bon an mal an, Dieu soit céans” which means “good year, bad year, may God be with you”. No, I think we will just pick it when we need it …
Thanks Rosemary. I just returned to this blog to explain that I just got my answer on your other blog ! Which was a very interesting explanation of the expressions of New Year’s.
[…] used to say o ghel an heu, meaning “may the wheat germinate”, when they cut the sacred mistletoe at the winter solstice. This seems to have gradually muted into kissing under the mistletoe at new […]