Saturday, December 21

Traditional Christmas Kissing Balls

Have you ever seen a Christmas kissing ball? These decorated balls of evergreens, holly and herbs hang over doorways during the Christmas holidays. Sometimes they're adorned with sprigs of mistletoe - an open invitation to be kissed! So where did this strange custom originate, and does it have any symbolism or meaning? Like a lot of our tradition, the kissing ball comes to us from the Middle Ages. People would wind together twine and evergreen branches into a ball shape. In the center of this conglomeration of evergreen boughs and twine they would place a clay figure of an infant to represent the baby Jesus. These "holy boughs", as they were called, would be hung from the ceiling along passageways in castles and big houses to render blessings and good luck to all who passed under the bough and the baby Jesus. In England during the reign of Queen Victoria the evergreens and holly were poked into an apple creating a ball of greens. The Victorians used herbs with romantic symbolism to adorn their holy balls and eventually it became tradition to kiss under this very romantic ball. As the 20th century unfolded, kissing balls fell out of favor. Only the mistletoe remained as a symbol of love and romance. But some traditionalists still love the lore, the mystery and the romance of this very traditional Christmas decoration.

So here's to the kissing's making a come back! 


Traditional Christmas Kissing Balls 
The time honored tradition of hanging a kissing ball in a doorway is easier than ever with OASIS® Netted Spheres. Made of floral foam they are wrapped in sturdy, flexible netting with a built in hanger. Spheres can also be used as a contemporary accent to door knobs or banisters. The 3" and 4 1/2" spheres are great for holiday decorating, you can find them at your local craft store.

Foam spheres are meant for use with fresh foliage and flowers. Fully soak the foam in water before using. Wrap spheres in waterproof ribbon around two sides and pin to create your own hanger, or pile a variety of sizes in a glass bowl for a buffet or centerpiece.

Kissing balls have made a comeback. If you'd rather not make your own you can buy them at many greenhouses and upscale garden centers nationwide. If you decide to make your own, Martha Stewart provides directions on her website for making kissing balls. However, while you can make a kissing ball using fresh greenery, it won't last long, so below there are instructions on how to make a pretty, and long-lasting artificial version.

  • 3 or 4-inch Styrofoam ball
  • Artificial greenery such as ivy, holly, or mistletoe
  • Artificial red berries
  • Red and green plaid ribbon, metallic gold ribbon, or wired sheer ribbon
  • Assortment of floral pins: T-pins and U-shaped pins.

  1. Push a U-shaped pin into the "top" of the ball, leaving about 1/4 inch gap. Remove pin, dab holes with hot glue, then reinsert the pin (with the 1/4 inch gap). Let glue set 5-10 minutes. (Note: the gap will allow you to thread a ribbon or wire through in order to hang the kissing ball.)
  2. Separate artificial ivy leaves from stems -- either by pulling or cutting them off the main stems. Leave 1/4 to 1/2-inch of stem. With the tip of the glue gun, make a small indentation into the foam, then glue each ivy stem into place to cover entire Styrofoam ball.
  3. If desired, hot glue or pin small sections of Spanish moss between the ivy leaves so that the Styrofoam is fully covered.
  4. Hot glue small bunches of red berries to fill in gaps, or use U-pins to tack the berries into place.
  5. String wire, fishline, or a ribbon through the U-pin at the top to hang from a light fixture or door frame.

Ribbon Topper Instructions:
  1. Attach one strand of ribbon at top of ball with a T-pin. Create a loop over the top of ivy and insert ribbon into ivy again about half way down ball, securing either with a T-pin or hot glue.  
  2. Create another loop and secure ribbon underneath center of ball with T-pin, leaving about 6-10 inches of extra ribbon to hang underneath ball. Repeat 2 more times to make 4 ribbon strands. 
  3. Add multi-looped ribbon bow at top of the ball and secure with 2 T-pins.



Christmas, kissing, ball, traditions, romance, come-back, fresh, faux, oasis, foam, holly, ivy, mistletoe,

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