The mistletoe tradition, Bristol style

CHRISTMAS is a time for tradition, one of which is the age old custom of kissing under the mistletoe. The serving class of Victorian England is credited with first recording the custom but it seems the power of the mistletoe goes back much further.

According to Wikipedia, the tradition dictated that a man was allowed to kiss any woman standing underneath mistletoe, and that bad luck would befall any woman who refused the kiss. Mind you, the idea was to kiss on the cheek and for the man to pluck a berry from the mistletoe with each kiss, the kissing to stop when all the berries were removed.

My friend Roger failed to follow the rules about when to stop when he was just 17 and working as an apprentice in a factory in Bristol, England…with 400 girls!

This is his story:

“This ‘palace’ in which I was serving part of my apprenticeship not only saw me working with 400 girls but the factory was surrounded by four pubs. Paradise.

“During the course of that Christmas Eve morning, I was asked by a number of girls which pub I was going to at lunch time. The ‘Spotted Cow’ was my reply. Little did I know what they had in store for me.

“Arriving at the pub later, I was ‘ordered’ to give every girl there a Christmas kiss! As

they lined up I realised there were about 80 of them and I started to panic. But in true British style I took to the task with relish and was spurred on with numerous pints that the girls provided.

“Returning to the factory, the supervisor had me ‘confined to barracks’ (the Engineering Workshop) for my own good as some of the girls had been known to be quite ‘frisky’ as the day wore on.

“Arriving home much later, my mother asked what was wrong with my face? I looked in the mirror and staring back were this lips that had swollen to twice their size but were grinning from ear to ear.”

As told to Len Horne

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