What Is the History of the Kissing Ball?

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The kissing ball is a tradition that started in England during the Middle Ages. The holiday kissing ball, which was referred to as “holy boughs” during that time period, is designed to be hung over doorways as an omen of goodwill to all who visit. It is also a sign that the homeowner embraces or welcomes visitors.

Hanging a kissing ball in a doorway is much like placing a mistletoe above an entryway. The difference is that the kissing ball is made up of interlocking evergreen branches. Often times, kissing balls support small figurines of the holy family. Hanging a mistletoe above a doorway symbolizes fertility and good fortune.

At one point, the kissing ball almost disappeared into obscurity thanks to the Puritans and their beliefs. However, the Victorians brought back the tradition and gave it the name of holiday kissing ball. The Victorians started the tradition of adding other foliage and herbs to these decorative kissing balls. The most common herbs were rosemary and lavender. These herbs were not only used for their beauty but also for their symbols of devotion and loyalty, which are two of the true meanings of the kissing ball. Kissing balls can be purchased pre-made from local garden centers or made at home.