Mythical Monday: The Mistletoe Bride by Mae Clair

Hello and welcome to another Mythical Monday! Today I’d like to revisit an urban legend that seemed perfect for the month of December – – that of the Mistletoe Bride.

bigstock-Young-Tender-Bride-44377663According to legend, a young bride suggested a game of hide-and-seek during the merriment of her wedding reception. The groom would be “it” and she and the guests would hide.

Most tales place the time near Christmas, the reception held in an elaborate country home or mansion decorated for the holidays. Several famous houses in England claim origination of the tale, such as Marwell House in Hampshire. Marwell was once owned by the family of Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour (not that Jane – – although I’m a huge fan!!).

In each retelling, the bride is dressed in her wedding gown, flush with the excitement of the game and the glow of being a new wife. She scampers off to find the perfect hiding place while the other guests join in the fun. After a suitable time, her husband locates each participant but is unable to find his bride. At first he thinks she is only playing, but as the hours wear on and she fails to appear, he grows worried. The guests help him search but are unable to find the missing bride. Eventually, they leave and go home, their hearts heavy with misgiving. Days pass, then weeks, and the heartbroken groom muddles through, forced to go on with his life.

Many years later a cleaning woman stumbles upon a locked trunk in the attic while tidying up. Curious about the contents, she breaks the lock and peers inside. To her horror she discovers the skeleton of a woman clothed in a moldy wedding dress, a piece of mistletoe by her side. Apparently, when the clever bride climbed in the trunk, the lid fell and struck her unconscious, locking her inside. When she awoke, she was trapped, her screams never heard by those who searched for her.

Freed from the trunk by the cleaning lady, her ghost now roams the halls of the mansion, fumbling at locked doors.

This is an extremely old tale that has had several variations in setting and time, but in all, the unfortunate bride is trapped inside the chest. It makes you think twice about hiding in anything with a lock, doesn’t it?