The Custom of Kissing Under the Mistletoe

The custom of kissing under the mistletoe could possibly be related to a Scandinavian goddess.  Frigga, the goddess of love, marriage, and destiny in Norse mythology, is strongly associated with mistletoe, which has been used as a decoration in homes for thousands of years.

According to Scandinavian legend, the god Balder the Beautiful was killed by a spear of mistletoe and his grieving mother Frigg, who banished the plant to the top of trees.  When Balder came back to life, Frigg made mistletoe a symbol of love.

In Brittany, France, the plant is known as Herbe de la Croix because it is thought that Christ’s cross was made of mistletoe wood.

Mistletoe is associated with many pagan rituals. In fact, the Christian church disliked the plant so much, thanks to its pagan associations, that it forbade its use in any form.  Some English churches continued this ban as late as the 20th century. Druids believed mistletoe growing on oak trees was the most sacred form of the plant and that it offered protection from all evil, as well as being the source of much magic.

The early Christian church banned this use of mistletoe because of its association with Druids. The mystery of the mistletoe’s method of reproduction led many people to link the plant with spontaneous generation, fertility and aphrodisiacs. In medieval times, women wishing to conceive would wrap mistletoe around their waists and wrists to increase their fertility.

Holly became a Christian substitute for mistletoe, which is why we ‘deck the halls’ with it. The sharply pointed leaves in holly were supposed to symbolize the thorns in Christ’s crown and the red berries were to symbolize his blood.

 

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15 Crazy Facts About Kissing We Bet You Didn’t Know

All the making out facts you were afraid to ask.

Making out. Puckering up. Smooching. Snogging. Lip-locking. Tongue-wrestling. Rounding first base. Sucking-face. Whatever you call it, kissing is one of our favorite parts about falling in love.

We’ve already given you the scoop on what the ladies really think of kissing, dished on the secret health benefits of kisses, and given you invaluable tips on how to kiss and make out. Now, we’re taking it one step further with an impressive list of eyebrow-raising facts about kissing and interesting tidbits about smacking lips.

Consider it your introductory Philematology 101 class (which, you’ll come to find out, is the scholarly study of kissing).

1. Your kissing style originates in the womb.

See a kiss in any Hollywood movie, painting, or sculpture and more often than not, you’ll see couples leaning in to the right. Why is that?

A German researcher observed over 100 couples and noted that two-thirds of them tilted their heads to the right. The scientific community at large theorizes that this instinct originates from the womb when we naturally tilted our heads to the right.

2. Kissing takes serious muscle power.

One kiss requires 146 muscles to coordinate, including 34 facial muscles and 112 postural muscles. A team of British researchers — Elaine Sassoon, Annabelle Dytham, Robert Scully and Professor Gus McGrouther from the Rayne Institute in University College, London — studied kissing couples under an MRI scanner and found that a kiss mostly involves the orbicularis oris (the muscle around your mouth).

“Not only do you use your facial muscles in kissing, but approximately 112 postural muscles as well,” Professor McGrouther said to The Telegraph. Yikes, sounds like a serious facial workout!

3. Our love of kissing comes from rats.

Kazushige Touhara and colleagues at the University of Tokyo believe that our affinity for kisses descends from an ancient rat. Mice and men have a surprisingly similar genetic makeup — sharing a common ancestor that lived sometime between 75 and 125 million years ago.

This ancient rat-like creature went by the name of Eomaia scansoria (Eomaia, Greek for “ancient mother,” and scansoria, Latin for “climber”). The science team theorizes that this creature would rub noses with a mate to sample his or her pheromones and signal desire. So, basically, human kissing is really rodent behavior. Who knew?

4. The history of “X” behind XOXO traces back to the Middle Ages.

We use “XOXO” as an affectionate afterthought to our signature all the time in cards and love letters, but not many people know its origin story.

Historians trace it back to the Middle Ages when most people couldn’t read or write. The peasants used to mark “X” as a stand-in signature and then kissed the document as an added gesture of sincerity.

5. A king once decreed that kissing be outlawed.

On July 16, 1439, King Henry VI banned kissing in England. His reasoning? It was to curtail the spread of disease in the kingdom. Duly note that his mental breakdown around 1453 required his wife, Margaret of Anjou, to assume control of his kingdom. (So that’s the level of crazy we were dealing with at this time.)

This went on to spur a lot of other weird smooching bans all over the world. Later in 16th Century Naples, not only was kissing in public banned, but it was punishable by death as well.

6. French kissers caused commuter headaches.

Oh, the French. Apparently in the early 20th Century, so many French commuters were getting frisky on the train that they had to ban kissing altogether.

So whenever you feel the train slow to a stop and hear the conductor’s drone voice call out over the intercom that the train has stopped “due to a sick passenger aboard the train ahead,” you might have an idea of what’s up.

7. The luck of the Irish comes with a kiss.

Call it the (germ-infested) luck o’ the Irish. Over 400,000 tourists gather to kiss the Blarney Stone near Cork, Ireland, every year — dubbing it the most “unhygienic” tourist attraction in the world. According to local legend, those who bend over backward to kiss the stone are “greatly” rewarded with “the gift of the gab,” essentially meaning flattery.

So if you’re looking to obtain the name of sweet talker, you might want to take a trip to Blarney Castle. But be warned! It’s been said that people have fallen to their deaths attempting the superstitious feat.

8. We almost didn’t have epic movie kisses.

. . . Some of the greatest kisses in Hollywood history almost never happened. Why? Back in 1930, a set of censorship regulations called The Hays Code prohibited acting couples from kissing in a horizontal position (as in, lying down). Also, married couples had to sleep in twin beds on screen and, if kissing action did happen on beds, one actor had to have their foot on the ground.

Oh yeah, and they couldn’t kiss for longer than three seconds. Not exactly the picture of romance, right?

Well, directors had a way around this. While filming the 1946 film , Alfred Hitchcock had Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant repeatedly kiss, briefly disrupted by dialogue and movement. It’s now considered one of the sexiest movie scenes of the time. Luckily, this pain of a ban dropped in the late 1960s.

9. People make careers out of the science of kissing.

Just in case you were so into kissing that you wanted to make a career out of it, the study of kissing is better known as philematology. And someone who studies kissing wears the title of osculologist. (That sounds like a cheesy bro T-shirt.)

10. This couple’s record-breaking kiss is incredible.

According to the Guinness World Records, the record for the longest-lasting kiss goes to Ekkachai and Laksana Tiranarat of Thailand. These champion smoochers locked lips for 58 hours, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds. (No word on if they got bathroom breaks, but we’re thinking that would have been a mood-killer.)

11. Kissing saves lives.

If your man isn’t big on PDA, this might convince him otherwise. A famous study once determined that men who get a peck on the cheek from their wives before heading out to work lived five years longer than their kissless counterparts

12. The Italians are expert kissers. Everyone else? Not so much.

C’mon guys, this is a depressing statistic. According to The Normal Bar, only a little over half of the world’s lovers kiss passionately. Take notes from the Italians. They know their romance.

13. The average person spends two weeks of his or her life kissing.

Experts estimate that the average person will spend 20,160 minutes of his or her lifetime kissing. In other words, that’s your senior spring break in college. So what happens in Cabo becomes a statistic.

14. Looking for The One? Kiss this many guys…

That’s a lot of frogs to find your prince. But that’s the price of true love, right? A British study commissioned by eHarmony to release with The Rose Project tracked the number of dates, breakups, and one night stands it takes for men and women to find lasting love — and kisses weren’t left out of the equation. It determined that it takes 15 kisses for women and 16 for men.

15. Kissing has amazing health benefits.

Making out with your partner is just what the doctor prescribed. Kissing burns calories (specifically, about two to three per minute), strengthens your immune system, relieves aches and pains, and prevents cavities! I mean, who knew how healthy swapping spit could be?

 

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Can You Get Coronavirus From Kissing? Here’s What Experts Suggest

A quick peck on the lips with your partner can feel like the most natural thing in the world. A steamy makeout sesh with a friend with benefits or an after-date kiss with your latest Tinder match might seem equally harmless and easy. But while the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, you might want to consider steering clear of contact and exercising extreme caution. Kissing can transmit coronavirus, and ultimately, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus, has been detected in countries all over the world, including the United States. It is primarily spread through human contact through the mucus membranes in the face (the mouth, eyes, and nose), so touching anything that’s been in contact with an infected person’s respiratory droplets and then touching your face, for example, can expose you to the virus. “Coughing and sneezing can also expel saliva, as well as mucus,” Vincent Racaniello, Ph. D., Higgins professor of microbiology and immunology at Columbia University, tells Elite Daily.

The severity of the pandemic varies by region, with some cities and states reporting more cases than others, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend avoiding close contact with people who are sick and putting distance between yourself and other people if coronavirus is spreading in your community. All these factors considered, swapping saliva is a no-go if coronavirus is spreading in your community, since you or your potential partner could be an asymptomatic carrier.

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“Any type of droplets, whether they be respiratory or saliva, can spread the virus, so kissing is definitely going to be something you want to be very careful about,” Dr. Darshan Shah, founder and medical director of Next Health, previously told Elite Daily. “And definitely when you’re in close quarters with someone, like in a romantic situation, you’re going to be spreading respiratory droplets to each other as well, so you need to be very careful.”

There’s no way to tell if you’ve been exposed to coronavirus right away, because symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), don’t show up right away and transmission depends on what you both have been exposed to. “For the first five to 10 days, people won’t exhibit any symptoms at all,” says Shah. “So even though someone doesn’t have symptoms, it doesn’t mean they don’t have coronavirus.” According to the CDC, coronavirus symptoms might not show up in infected individuals until two to 14 days after exposure, so even if the other person says they feel totally fine, be vigilant and think twice. Shah recommends asking them if they’ve been traveling recently, “especially to one of the affected areas,” or if they’ve been around other people who are showing symptoms. “So, if they have a family member at home that has symptoms, or if they know that they work at a place where someone was diagnosed with coronavirus, those are the types of situations where they really need to be careful about their intimacy.”

LOUISE BEAUMONT/Moment/Getty Images

“Once infected, there’s little that can be done,” says Racaniello. If you are not yet showing symptoms, Shah recommends trying to boost your immune system with foods like ginger and leafy greens, green tea, and spices like turmeric and oregano. Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night, and try to keep your stress levels down as much as possible. If you can exercise at home for a little bit every day, that’s also a good idea. “That’s really all you can do if you don’t have symptoms,” Shah says. But if a few days have passed since your makeout and you’re feeling symptoms, the CDC recommends self-quarantining as much as possible and calling your doctor to figure out next steps.

If you have an exclusive partner who you know hasn’t traveled abroad and hasn’t, to their knowledge, been around any potential contaminated situations or people, Shah says you’re “probably OK to go ahead and kiss each other.” He still recommends adhering to the CDC guidelines making sure you and your partner are both practicing social distancing (the practice of “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine) from others for at least 14 days in order to avoid exposing yourselves, and thus, each other if you want to keep kissing regularly.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support.

 

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