Friday, December 13, 2013

Don't Stand Under the Kissing Bough with Anyone Else But Me

Each year, my husband eagerly awaits the first sign of the Christmas, which at my house means the decorations going up.  He’s happy to help pull down the boxes holding all the trimmings and set up the tree in front of the window.  But what he really likes is the spray of mistletoe I hang in the doorway between the kitchen and the dining room.  You see, my husband loves to catch me under the bough and steal a kiss.

Mistletoe wasn’t the only thing that hinted of stolen kisses in the early nineteenth century.  The more likely culprit would have been a kissing bough.  The kissing bough was a structure made from evergreens such as laurel or pine.  It was decorated with apples, paper flowers, ribbons, and dolls representing Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus.  Holly and ivy might be included in parts of England where those plants were prevalent. 
Sometimes the kissing bough looked like a wreath suspended flat; more often period pictures show a rounded structure like a globe.  Some hung the bough from a chandelier or high ceiling.  Others tell of boughs resting alongside a door or perhaps over it. 

However the bough was constructed and displayed, the purpose was the same:  a gentleman catching a lady underneath or next to it was allowed to request a kiss. In some households, a berry had to be plucked from the bough with each kiss forfeited.  Once the berries were gone, no more kisses could be required. As you can imagine, the young ladies and gentlemen made good use of the kissing boughs near them.

You can learn how to make your own kissing bough this Christmas from this crafters website. 
I hope the loved ones in your life make good use of your kissing bough or any mistletoe you have handy! 

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