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Victorian Christmas: The Kissing Ball

Posted on by Website Administrator

We would have been opening our doors to welcome you into our wonderful Victorian Christmas Market 2020 this weekend. The market may not be going ahead this year BUT that doesn’t mean we can’t get into the Victorian Christmas spirit! Have you heard of Christmas kissing balls before? Read below to discover how they became such a popular decoration for the holidays.

Kissing Ball Decoration in the Home (Image Source: Pinterest)


During the Victorian period, Christmas kissing balls were decorated balls of holly, herbs and mistletoe, among other evergreens. They were traditionally hung over doorways as invitations for people to kiss.

Like many Christmas traditions we have today, kissing balls officially originated in the Middle Ages as ‘Holy Boughs’. People wound wind twine and evergreen branches into a ball shape and placed a figure of a baby inside to represent the baby Jesus. They were hung in houses to bring blessings to all who walked under the bough.

Kissing Ball Decorated with Holly and Pinecones (Image Source: Pinterest)


The kissing ball made a return during the Victorian era. People would often stick sprigs of evergreen, holly and herbs into apples and decorate with ribbon to hang in their homes. This ‘sweet ball’ eventually adopted the romanticized symbolism that the Victorian era is commonly associated with. Victorians chose herbs, flowers and boughs that were symbols for love, charity and affection.

By the end of the 19th Century, the kissing ball symbolised love and could often be found in ballrooms, where dozens of decorated kissing balls were hung from the ceiling.

Depiction of a Victorian Ball, 'An Elegant Soiree' by Victor Gilbert (Image Source: Pinterest)


As kissing balls eventually lost their popularity in the 20th Century, only the mistletoe, often seen as holiday decorations today, remained a symbol of love and romance.

Will you be making your own Victorian Kissing Ball to add to your decorations this Christmas? Click HERE for our easy tutorial! Remember to tag us in your Facebook photo of your finished decoration using #kelhamcountdown. 


Posted in Kelham Island Museum

Tagged in Victorian Christmas Market


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