What endless possibilities a sprig of mistletoe can conjure up at a Christmas get-together. There it hangs, with its shiny green leaves and those lustrous, faintly mystical berries offering a mix of potential embarrassment, lusty temptation or the hope of a dream about to come true – depending on who else is on the guest list.
Today’s ritual of kissing under the mistletoe is rooted in ancient histories when the plant itself was thought to increase life and fertility. It was later seen as an evergreen symbol of love and friendship, but like many things from the golden age of chivalry, the practice of guests kissing their host’s hand under the mistletoe as they arrived has today given way to an excuse for a much more impassioned snog.
Of all the types of physical touch, kissing is perhaps the richest and most nuanced. Aside from inflaming the passions, kissing plays an important role in building and sustaining relationships too.
Here are 10 reasons why you might just want to steal a kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas – whether it’s with your long-term lover or someone completely new!
- Kissing is a deliciously revealing way to investigate a potential lover. By the time you’re lip-locked, you’re up-close and personal enough to touch, smell and taste them, see the expressions on their face and even read cues about their general state of health. A steamy kiss, for example will open the pores on the forehead, to release pearls of pheromone-rich sweat that your senses will decode and hopefully fuel your desire even more.
- A kiss creates intimacy more effectively than a sexual encounter. because it requires the full participation and engagement of the other. To anyone who has ever indulged, there is surely memory of myriad feelings – of deep connection and emotional nourishment, of reassurance and security, of excitement and anticipation, of knowing and being known – that only a kiss can give.
- A kiss simply doesn’t work if one of you isn’t fully present and committed to it, so you can divine quite a lot about your partners’ thoughts and intentions towards you from the way they kiss, and how often you do it. Sadly, kissing is one of the first things to go in long term relationships, and can signal waning interest much earlier than a loss of libido and sex.
- Kissing is uniquely bonding. The hormone oxytocin (I’ve seen it called the ‘cuddle hormone’,) can be released with a great kiss. It turns off our sense of fear, and helps to spread a warm glow of comfort and trust, which if it’s shared might just prompt the two of you to start forming an emotional attachment early on.
- A kiss creates a distinct, more intense connection between familiar lovers. The aphrodisiac chemicals in saliva have long been celebrated in ancient cultures. In China, for example, it was said that the love juices in the mouth contained complementary essences to nourish and balance the male and female facets of a couple’s sexuality.
- It feels great! The physical thrill of kissing may prompt your brain to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that’s associated with pleasure. At the same time, the oxytocin rushing to other parts of your brain shuts down any negative emotions, creating the overall effect of being on a wonderful natural high.
- Kissing helps to relieve stress and this is one reason why couples who kiss frequently are more likely to have long, satisfying relationships. So, while you can’t necessarily expect to sustain the adrenalin-fuelled passions of an early relationship, there’s a lot to be said for exchanging heart-pounding passion for a sense of peace and contentment that’s good for your overall health and well being.
- Kissing connects us to important memories of youth. Whether it was a full-lipped French kiss, a snogging session behind the bike shed, or a tongue tingling, polo-mint-infused epic (as was mine) it’s likely that your first kiss is one of your most cherished memories. Like the kiss in a fairytale signalling the start of a life happy ever after, a first kiss is an important gateway to awakening sexuality and the promise of adventures and discoveries to come and something many of us remember their whole life long.
- It’s a great way to express your love and caring for someone. Sometimes couples avoid kissing because there’s an assumption that it signals an invitation to sex. But it really doesn’t have to be that way. Consider that kissing is a form of intimate communication. It may be easy to get out of the habit, but – if other expressions of intimacy have faded and you’re not sure where to begin again – asking your partner for a kiss (or a cuddle) can be a relatively easy place to start.
- Every kiss is an original work of art, generating fresh sensations and new forms of excitement in each encounter. A kiss can create emotional intensity and a heady intoxication from just a slight brushing of the cheek with parted lips to a passionate exploration of your partner’s mouth through a dance of tongues. And, with over 200 receptors on the lips, there’s more sensitivity concentrated here than even in the most intimate parts of the body, so the possible permutations are endless.
Great news perhaps for anyone wanting to share some love, intimacy and connection, passion and peace this festive season.