I wrote about a kissing bough as one of the Darcy family heirlooms retrieved from storage for Lizzy’s first Christmas at Pemberley. My inspiration was, in fact, a kissing ball that I made for our family when my husband and I were first married. Back in those days I was like many newlywed wives and tried to be artsy! I’ve given up on that pathetic endeavor, but the kissing ball I made is one of our heirlooms and I am rather proud of it!
According to Wikipedia:
A Kissing Bough is a traditional Christmas decoration in England. Also called a Christmas-bough or mistletoe-bough, it has the shape of a sphere or globe with a frame made of wire. The whole frame is covered with greenery. Red apples or oranges may be hung from ribbons in the centre and mistletoe is tied below. Additionally candles may be clipped to the frame and bright streamers are attached to the top. Another form that the Kissing Bough can take is that of a crown with a structure composed of only the top half of the globe.
The history of the kissing bough is intriguing. Christmas traditions throughout the centuries are replete with the item, but I will not go into an exhaustive essay. In brief, the bough was the precursor to the Christmas tree that would not appear until the Victorian Era. Dating from at least medieval times, it was originally a holy ornament created by cutting off the top of a tree, hanging it upside down as a memory of the Holy Trinity, and having it blessed by a local priest. It was a symbol of peace and love, with embracing and affectionate kisses a common practice under the bough. The Holy Bough is a terrific site on this subject.
Another option was to take branches of various evergreen trees and bushes, wind them into hoops or spheres, and decorate with small effigies of Christ. Over time, naturally, other adornments such as fruits, nuts, ribbons, ornaments, etc. were added with the bough often a status emblem pointing to the wealth of the family. The religious roots were lost to a great degree, with only the fun of stealing kisses remaining. Last Christmas I wrote two essays on the Christmas Tree and Mistletoe with more detailed info related there, the history of which does link to the greenery customs.
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