During the nineteenth century a kissing bough hung from the doorway, ceiling, or chandelier of many English homes at Christmas time. Families fashioned this homemade decoration by winding Christmas GREENERY around a circular wire frame. Sometimes a spherical frame was formed by placing one hoop inside another. Householders often embellished this basic design with ribbons, apples, oranges, colored paper, candles, and other ORNAMENTS.
The most important element in the kissing bough was MISTLETOE. Mistletoe might cover the frame or, if only a small quantity was available, a bunch of mistletoe might hang from the center of the frame. By the time the kissing bough became popular in the late eighteenth century, the English had already adopted the custom of stealing kisses from those who passed by, or stood beneath, a sprig of mistletoe. Placed where guests and family members were certain to walk under it, the kissing bough provided an opportunity to exercise this custom. In the nineteenth century the English began to decorate their homes with CHRISTMAS TREES. As the tree became the focal point of English Christmas decorations, the kissing bough declined in popularity.