A SUPERMARKET this week decided to spruce things up for Christmas by handing out sprigs of free mistletoe to its shoppers in a bid to get the town kissing.
Morrisons on Dorcan Way was keen to see the yuletide smooching live on amid fears that kissing under the mistletoe could become extinct, as new research reveals younger generations are shunning the tradition.
The research says 71 per cent of UK adults under 35 have never experienced the custom of a kiss under the mistletoe, compared to 38 per cent of over 55s.
The retailer has been giving away mistletoe in all of its stores to sprinkle a little Christmas magic.
Steve Smith, store general manager at Morrisons Swindon, said: “Kissing under the mistletoe is possibly the oldest Christmas tradition we have in Britain - it dates back over 2,000 years.
"It would be a shame to see it become a thing of past so we will be giving mistletoe to customers who look in need of a magical Christmas kiss.”
On Thursday they began spreading festive cheer by handing out the sprigs to all customers passing through their doors.
The tradition is showing one of the biggest declines of all British Christmas traditions. Last year only one in seven (14 per cent) of UK adults kissed someone under the mistletoe, compared with 74 per cent who sent Christmas cards and 61 per cent who ate a mince pie.
Other traditions falling out of favour amongst Brits last year were carol singing – only 9 per cent enjoyed a traditional Christmas croon in 2014 – and Christmas pudding – only 13 per cent of the nation served up the traditional dish, while only eight per cent actually made one.
Although few younger Brits have enjoyed a kiss under the mistletoe, 87 per cent of this age group claimed there was someone they would like to kiss under the mistletoe this year.
The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe began due to its ancient associations with magical healing powers and fertility, with some cultures viewing it as an aphrodisiac due to the suggestive arrangement of its berries.
During Victorian times, if a girl refused a kiss whilst standing under mistletoe, it was said that she wouldn't receive any marriage proposals for at least a year, if not indefinitely.
According to Morrisons Mistletoe buyer Glen Cooper, this year’s mistletoe crop will be one of the best for 10 years, due to ideal warmer and wetter growing conditions
UK mistletoe expert Jonathan Briggs said: “This year we’re expecting sales of mistletoe to increase by at least 50 per cent, due to the crop being so attractive.
"Each winter's mistletoe crop is judged by the number and size of berries rather than the length of the stem, as these are essential to the kissing tradition.
“2015's crop is excellent on all counts, with every stem loaded with the familiar large white berries, bestowing it with extra kissing quality. Years like this are sometimes described by the trade as ‘mistletoe bling’ years.”
Morrisons mistletoe kissing research also revealed that when it comes to making the first move, men are the bolder of the two. Fear of rejection (20 per cent) and a dislike of public displays of affection (17 per cent) were the reasons most Brits shied away from going in for a peck and when asked where the most festive kisses take place, 11 per cent was in the pub, work Christmas parties was 10 per cent and the office was 5 per cent.
Employees wanting to kiss their boss was 1 per cent with 2 per cent admitting they would like to kiss a colleague.
However 12 per cent are afraid of looking desperate
The top five female celebs Brits most want to kiss under the mistletoe are:
Top five male celebs Brits most want to kiss under the mistletoe are: