The Kissing Bough

Kissing boughby Mary Jo

If you've read many Christmas Regency romances, I'm sure you've encountered the kissing bough.  Christmas trees didn't become common in Britain until the Victorian age, and were brought into fashion by the Royal Family's German connections. 

But the kissing bough has deep roots in British history and is part of the tradition of bringing evergreens into the house at the holiday season.  It's essentially a globe of greens with a bunch of mistletoe fastened to the bottom. Traditionally one white mistletoe berry was removed each time there was a kiss.  I presume that festive householders would refresh the berries as necessary!  The image at the right is from the North Pole site, with instructions on how to make your own kissing bough.  

Over time, kissing boughs became more elaborate, with ribbons and candles and fruit.  I thought it would be fun to go to YouTube and find a couple of videos of people making kissing boughs.  This first is from English Heritage and goes behind the scenes of Kenilworth Castle to see how a Tudor kissing bough is made.  (It helps if you can wander into your knot garden and cut off some rose hips. <G>)

This second one is a clip that talks about Georgian kissing boughs, and also about the pagan associations of many of the plants.  Apparently mistletoe isn't supposed to be brought into churches!

From a plot point of view, a kiss under the mistletoes can be embarrassing because of MaryJoPutney_TheChristmasCuckoo too much unruly attraction, or it can be a kiss that should be casual that turns out to be disturbingly electric.  Either way, it affects the romance.  Here's a kissing bough bit of the former type from my novella, The Christmas Cuckoo.

            After receiving Jack’s playful kiss, Phoebe said gaily, “Your turn, Meg.”

            Jack gave Meg an appalled glance. As plainly as if it were written on the wall in letters of flame, he knew they were both thinking of the kiss in the stable at Chippenham.

            So much for her comment that they should forget what had happened! Jack recalled with absolute precision how her soft body had molded against him, how she had tasted, and how she had responded. Remembering that, it was impossible to kiss her casu­ally now.

            Just before the silence became embarrassingly obvious, Meg stepped up and presented her cheek with a determined let’s-get-this-over-with expression. Jack gave her a quick, awkward peck. Her creamy skin was silky smooth beneath his lips. Then the moment was over, to Jack’s immense relief.

Have you ever seen a real kissing bough?  Are you now inspired to make one next year?  They do look quite fun!

Mary Jo

55 thoughts on “The Kissing Bough”

  1. Yesterday I visited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, a National Trust property, where they had decorated the house as it would have been for a Georgian Christmas, including a kissing bough in the servants quarter. Particularly striking were the Christmas pudding bushes lining the approach to the house. Pics with the recipe are here:
    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/features/berrington-brown-and-the-future
    don’t expect to eat them though!

    Reply
  2. Yesterday I visited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, a National Trust property, where they had decorated the house as it would have been for a Georgian Christmas, including a kissing bough in the servants quarter. Particularly striking were the Christmas pudding bushes lining the approach to the house. Pics with the recipe are here:
    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/features/berrington-brown-and-the-future
    don’t expect to eat them though!

    Reply
  3. Yesterday I visited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, a National Trust property, where they had decorated the house as it would have been for a Georgian Christmas, including a kissing bough in the servants quarter. Particularly striking were the Christmas pudding bushes lining the approach to the house. Pics with the recipe are here:
    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/features/berrington-brown-and-the-future
    don’t expect to eat them though!

    Reply
  4. Yesterday I visited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, a National Trust property, where they had decorated the house as it would have been for a Georgian Christmas, including a kissing bough in the servants quarter. Particularly striking were the Christmas pudding bushes lining the approach to the house. Pics with the recipe are here:
    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/features/berrington-brown-and-the-future
    don’t expect to eat them though!

    Reply
  5. Yesterday I visited Berrington Hall in Herefordshire, a National Trust property, where they had decorated the house as it would have been for a Georgian Christmas, including a kissing bough in the servants quarter. Particularly striking were the Christmas pudding bushes lining the approach to the house. Pics with the recipe are here:
    https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/berrington-hall/features/berrington-brown-and-the-future
    don’t expect to eat them though!

    Reply
  6. I don’t think I would ever have done something as elaborate as the kissing bough you’ve shown. These days’s I’m simplifying; we didn’t decoarate.
    I would love to have gone to Berrington Hall with Quantum..

    Reply
  7. I don’t think I would ever have done something as elaborate as the kissing bough you’ve shown. These days’s I’m simplifying; we didn’t decoarate.
    I would love to have gone to Berrington Hall with Quantum..

    Reply
  8. I don’t think I would ever have done something as elaborate as the kissing bough you’ve shown. These days’s I’m simplifying; we didn’t decoarate.
    I would love to have gone to Berrington Hall with Quantum..

    Reply
  9. I don’t think I would ever have done something as elaborate as the kissing bough you’ve shown. These days’s I’m simplifying; we didn’t decoarate.
    I would love to have gone to Berrington Hall with Quantum..

    Reply
  10. I don’t think I would ever have done something as elaborate as the kissing bough you’ve shown. These days’s I’m simplifying; we didn’t decoarate.
    I would love to have gone to Berrington Hall with Quantum..

    Reply
  11. LOL about the Christmas puddings, Quantum! Are those things sitting on the first two in the row drones or giant mechanical insects? *G* I’ll have to look at that site more thoroughly since I’ve not familiar with Berrington Hall.

    Reply
  12. LOL about the Christmas puddings, Quantum! Are those things sitting on the first two in the row drones or giant mechanical insects? *G* I’ll have to look at that site more thoroughly since I’ve not familiar with Berrington Hall.

    Reply
  13. LOL about the Christmas puddings, Quantum! Are those things sitting on the first two in the row drones or giant mechanical insects? *G* I’ll have to look at that site more thoroughly since I’ve not familiar with Berrington Hall.

    Reply
  14. LOL about the Christmas puddings, Quantum! Are those things sitting on the first two in the row drones or giant mechanical insects? *G* I’ll have to look at that site more thoroughly since I’ve not familiar with Berrington Hall.

    Reply
  15. LOL about the Christmas puddings, Quantum! Are those things sitting on the first two in the row drones or giant mechanical insects? *G* I’ll have to look at that site more thoroughly since I’ve not familiar with Berrington Hall.

    Reply
  16. Sue, I followed Quantum’s links and read more abotu Berrington Hall, and I think he should take both of us there for a tour! Great halls decorated for the holidays are lovely places to visit–we enjoy seeing such places while not making any attempt to emulate. *G*

    Reply
  17. Sue, I followed Quantum’s links and read more abotu Berrington Hall, and I think he should take both of us there for a tour! Great halls decorated for the holidays are lovely places to visit–we enjoy seeing such places while not making any attempt to emulate. *G*

    Reply
  18. Sue, I followed Quantum’s links and read more abotu Berrington Hall, and I think he should take both of us there for a tour! Great halls decorated for the holidays are lovely places to visit–we enjoy seeing such places while not making any attempt to emulate. *G*

    Reply
  19. Sue, I followed Quantum’s links and read more abotu Berrington Hall, and I think he should take both of us there for a tour! Great halls decorated for the holidays are lovely places to visit–we enjoy seeing such places while not making any attempt to emulate. *G*

    Reply
  20. Sue, I followed Quantum’s links and read more abotu Berrington Hall, and I think he should take both of us there for a tour! Great halls decorated for the holidays are lovely places to visit–we enjoy seeing such places while not making any attempt to emulate. *G*

    Reply
  21. The kissing bough sounds like a lovely tradition. Thanks for your post, Mary Jo. Please sign my up for Quantum’s next tour group!

    Reply
  22. The kissing bough sounds like a lovely tradition. Thanks for your post, Mary Jo. Please sign my up for Quantum’s next tour group!

    Reply
  23. The kissing bough sounds like a lovely tradition. Thanks for your post, Mary Jo. Please sign my up for Quantum’s next tour group!

    Reply
  24. The kissing bough sounds like a lovely tradition. Thanks for your post, Mary Jo. Please sign my up for Quantum’s next tour group!

    Reply
  25. The kissing bough sounds like a lovely tradition. Thanks for your post, Mary Jo. Please sign my up for Quantum’s next tour group!

    Reply
  26. What fun, Quantum. Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit Berrington Hall with Joanna Maitland, where we were given a private showing of their wonderful costume collection.
    It’s a house I’d be happy to visit again.

    Reply
  27. What fun, Quantum. Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit Berrington Hall with Joanna Maitland, where we were given a private showing of their wonderful costume collection.
    It’s a house I’d be happy to visit again.

    Reply
  28. What fun, Quantum. Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit Berrington Hall with Joanna Maitland, where we were given a private showing of their wonderful costume collection.
    It’s a house I’d be happy to visit again.

    Reply
  29. What fun, Quantum. Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit Berrington Hall with Joanna Maitland, where we were given a private showing of their wonderful costume collection.
    It’s a house I’d be happy to visit again.

    Reply
  30. What fun, Quantum. Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit Berrington Hall with Joanna Maitland, where we were given a private showing of their wonderful costume collection.
    It’s a house I’d be happy to visit again.

    Reply
  31. I enjoyed the post, Mary Jo, and loved the video of making the kissing bough. It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. The “bough” word made me think it was a decorated tree branch.

    Reply
  32. I enjoyed the post, Mary Jo, and loved the video of making the kissing bough. It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. The “bough” word made me think it was a decorated tree branch.

    Reply
  33. I enjoyed the post, Mary Jo, and loved the video of making the kissing bough. It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. The “bough” word made me think it was a decorated tree branch.

    Reply
  34. I enjoyed the post, Mary Jo, and loved the video of making the kissing bough. It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. The “bough” word made me think it was a decorated tree branch.

    Reply
  35. I enjoyed the post, Mary Jo, and loved the video of making the kissing bough. It wasn’t at all what I’d imagined. The “bough” word made me think it was a decorated tree branch.

    Reply
  36. Maybe next Christmas I will arrange a special virtual ‘Quantum tour’. You are all invited and I know a particularly nice pub …. my treat! 😊
    Thanks for a splendid post Mary Jo

    Reply
  37. Maybe next Christmas I will arrange a special virtual ‘Quantum tour’. You are all invited and I know a particularly nice pub …. my treat! 😊
    Thanks for a splendid post Mary Jo

    Reply
  38. Maybe next Christmas I will arrange a special virtual ‘Quantum tour’. You are all invited and I know a particularly nice pub …. my treat! 😊
    Thanks for a splendid post Mary Jo

    Reply
  39. Maybe next Christmas I will arrange a special virtual ‘Quantum tour’. You are all invited and I know a particularly nice pub …. my treat! 😊
    Thanks for a splendid post Mary Jo

    Reply
  40. Maybe next Christmas I will arrange a special virtual ‘Quantum tour’. You are all invited and I know a particularly nice pub …. my treat! 😊
    Thanks for a splendid post Mary Jo

    Reply
  41. Quantum, thanks for making this blog extra fun! If you want to do a virtual tour next Christmas (with pub!), maybe you could do it as a guest blogger here? We would all love it!

    Reply
  42. Quantum, thanks for making this blog extra fun! If you want to do a virtual tour next Christmas (with pub!), maybe you could do it as a guest blogger here? We would all love it!

    Reply
  43. Quantum, thanks for making this blog extra fun! If you want to do a virtual tour next Christmas (with pub!), maybe you could do it as a guest blogger here? We would all love it!

    Reply
  44. Quantum, thanks for making this blog extra fun! If you want to do a virtual tour next Christmas (with pub!), maybe you could do it as a guest blogger here? We would all love it!

    Reply
  45. Quantum, thanks for making this blog extra fun! If you want to do a virtual tour next Christmas (with pub!), maybe you could do it as a guest blogger here? We would all love it!

    Reply

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