Christmas is full of things, stuffing your face with mince pies and trying to tear off wrapping paper mainly. But what Christmas things can't we live without? Obviously the food and drink, but what about the little things they may go unnoticed, and Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without them.
Mistletoe is one of the best things about Christmas, Cliff Richard sang about it so it must be. It is a fabulous excuse to kiss any stranger you come across or to get a kiss off that gorgeous guy at work that you have been eyeing up since last years Christmas party. Just because you have a branch with a few leaves and berries on, it means that you can lock lips with anyone you like without being put on an assault charge, or at least try to.
So when the 1st of December dawns you can head to the garden centre, spend an exorbitant amount of money for two leaves and get your blue tac out to stick the mistletoe above the front door. This is part of your action plan to get a smooch of the yummy postman, but sadly instead you get the 60 year old slimy postman that is always mentally undressing you, maybe mistletoe above the door isn't such a good idea.
So where has the excuse of kissing someone dishy under the mistletoe come from? Well, it goes all the way back to the Greek festival of Saturnalia and was later used as part of marriage rites. Mistletoe has always been thought of as magical and is believed to have the power of fertility. Mr and Mrs Von Traap and Ma and Pop Larkin must have had an awful lot of it then. It was also considered to be a plant of peace under which enemies could declare a truce or fighting spouses could kiss and make-up under it. I don't see David Cameron and Ed Milliband kissing under the mistletoe anytime soon though.
In the 18th century English people named a ball of mistletoe a 'kissing ball' giving it a magical touch. It is meant to be trimmed with evergreen, ribbons and ornaments. Its not meant to be like the thin twig and couple of leaves you get for 5 quid now.
At Christmas a young lady (after all we are perceived to be the desperate ones) stands under a mistletoe ball and cannot refuse to be kissed, not even by a spotty 14 year old boy. If the girl remained unkissed she cannot expect to marry the following year, happy new year to her. Frantic girls who haven't been kissed under the mistletoe yet please don't head for a tub of Ben and Jerry's and watch Bridget Jones, even though it is very tempting.
Crackers, the highlight of the Christmas lunch, well apart from the pigs in blankets. Every year we cross our arms and pull crackers with people around the table, tugging tight hoping to get the prize. I always either end up with the end or a mini pencil. Crackers are full of awful jokes, rubbishy presents and a tissue paper crown style hat that you can never get to look right on your head. We have a lovely man called Thomas Smith to thank for introducing lousy jokes and crazy jokes in 1846 to our Christmas dinner. During a visit to Paris he came across the bon-bon, a sweet wrapped in paper with a twist either side. Thomas had a brainwave and decoded to sell similar wrapped sweets in England in the lead up to Christmas. In the early 1850s he decided to include a motto with the sweet. Many of the motto's were love poems and the sweets were bought by men to give to women, if only they were like that now. A joke about who delivers presents to sharks at Christmas isn't that romantic. Its Santa Jaws by the way.
In the 1860s the banger was added. This was made up of two chemically absorbed papers that made a loud noise when you pulled them apart. Just warn your Grandma before hand, you don't want to give her a heart attack when she's eating her sprouts. These sweets were originally called 'Cosaques' but they soon became 'Crackers'. Thank god, 'Cosaques' doesn't really roll of the tongue does it. People started to copy his idea, so he came up with the genius idea of replacing the sweet with a surprise gift. I don't think a plastic comb and a mini pen that doesn't work was what he was thinking though.
online design a Christmas jumper competition, find the details here and enter to win some fabulous prizes! So everyone enjoy smooching under the mistletoe and pulling your cracker. Just don't combine the two, pulling a cracker with your love can turn into a big fight over who gets the big part of the cracker with the mini pack of cards in, wearing your paper hat of course.
Second Hand Rose