Anecdotes of Christmas Kisses Past

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry writes about kisses – some delightful, some unlawful – from Christmases past. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

One never knows what will spark when you end up under the mistletoe at Christmas! Sometimes it is just a matter of spirit that prompts the urge to plant one on someone without help from the magical brush sprig. Today I bring you tales of kisses and cuddles from Christmas past, from the delightful to the unlawful, compliments of GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives.

Illustration: “Under the Mistletoe” from “Christmas throughout Christendom,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, January 1873. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Illustration: “Under the Mistletoe” from “Christmas throughout Christendom,” Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, January 1873. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

For example, in 1903 a boy bribed Santa with “a kiss and a great big hug” in exchange for a wagon and gifts for the kin folk! The Times-Dispatch published precious letters to Santa from the local tots.

A letter to Santa Claus, Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper article 22 December 1903
Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 22 December 1903, page 11

This one read:

Dear Old Friend Santy Claus:

I liked all your presents last year and I thank you for them, and I hope that you won’t forget me this year. Please bring me a wagon, with a high seat in front, a step in the back, and side seats. I believe you call it a patrol wagon. Please bring papa and mamma something and don’t forget my little cousin, who lives down the street, George. Please have a large box of fireworks in the wagon and anything else you can spare. If you bring me these things I will give you a kiss and a great big hug, if only [I] can catch you before you get back up the chimney.

Your loving little boy,
Macon Latham, 1001 Hull St., Manchester, Va.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, a fellow’s fiery Christmas kiss was fizzled by the fuzz! In 1910 Ashville, North Carolina, folks got a hot tip from the press.

An article about a Christmas kiss, Albuquerque Journal newspaper article 27 December 1910
Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico), 27 December 1910, page 2

Here is the skinny:

Ashville, N.C., Dec. 26. – Because it was charged, he was carried away by an exuberance of osculatory zeal and unlawful[ly] inflicted a kiss on Mrs. Zella Ward, James Ramsey is tonight cooling off in the city jail, charged with insulting Mrs. Ward.

Ramsey made a holiday call at the Ward home today and was admitted as a friend of the family. He kissed Mrs. Ward as a holiday greeting in the presence of her two small children. Mrs. Ward immediately left the house and returned with a policeman, who took Ramsey in charge.

Here is another report on Christmas kisses and the law, from the Plain Dealer.

An article about Christmas kisses, Plain Dealer newspaper article 19 December 1915
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), 19 December 1915, page 8

This article reported:

Elyria, O., Dec. 18. – (Spl.) – A large sprig of mistletoe is suspended over the spot where brides and grooms obtain their marriage licenses at the probate court.

Judge Clyde Wilcox has issued an edict making it mandatory that all couples obtaining a marriage license perform osculation under the mistletoe.

The several young women clerks employed in the office are remonstrating against being witnesses to the forced kissing.

The Baltimore American highlighted a Christmas kiss craze in 1921.

An article about Christmas kisses, Baltimore American newspaper article 20 December 1921
Baltimore American (Baltimore, Maryland), 20 December 1921, page 16

This article reported:

Will the Baltimore Blade, who has heretofore done his kissing as the party of the first part and in person, take kindly to the kiss-print?

The answer is that he will have to, because that is what he is going to get this Christmas.

According to those who will send them out to true lovers and admirers, “No Christmas card is complete without one.”

The kiss-print is the latest invention of Paris, to be used to bestow, up to a given point of fervor, affection upon the absent. It was invented by Mlle. Etoile Lenoir, a Paris dancing star, who found that her engagements were becoming too numerous for her to attend to personally.

A kiss under the mistletoe made a nice start for Pvt. Richard Wallace’s Christmas leave, as reported in the Dallas Morning News.

An article about a Christmas kiss, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 13 December 1957
Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 13 December 1957, page 24

The photo caption read:

This, and Christmas leave, too! Pvt. Richard Wallace of Oradell, N.J., enroute from Fort Hood to his home for Christmas, gets a sendoff kiss under Texas mistletoe from stewardess Bonnie Alexander as he boards the Braniff DC-7C for New York City. Stewardess Mary Sheehan holds the mistletoe, which is part of 3,000 pounds loaded on the plane and destined for markets in New York and Chicago. A Marlin company harvests the Christmas product.

And last, for aquatic mammal lovers (myself being among them), comes this cute photo of a very special Christmas kiss from the Dallas Morning News.

An article about a Christmas kiss, Dallas Morning News newspaper article 14 December 1975
Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 14 December 1975, page 16

The photo caption read:

Sealed with a kiss. Cristy Waymer, 2, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Waymer of Houston, gets a kiss from Barnaby, the Christmas seal, at a Houston shopping center. Barnaby, who lives at Sea-Arama in Galveston, is selling kisses through Dec. 18. The money goes to a Christmas Seal program.

Happy Christmas, Peeps!

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Note on the header image: a sailor tries to kiss a young woman under a sprig of mistletoe. Credit: William Small.

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