SUPERMARKET bosses are encouraging Sintelliners to pucker up this Christmas by giving away mistletoe to customers.
Staff at Morrisons in Baxters Lane will be handing out free sprigs to shoppers in a bid to rekindle the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe.
According to the supermarket, research has found that kissing under the mistletoe could become extinct, as younger generations are shunning the tradition. Seventy-one 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.
David Higginson, general manager of the store, 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."
Showing one of the biggest declines of all British Christmas traditions, last year only one in seven 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 nine per cent enjoyed a traditional Christmas croon in 2014 - and Christmas pudding - only 13 per cent of the nation served up the traditional dish, whilst fewer than one in ten actually made one.
But whilst few younger Brits have enjoyed a kiss under the mistletoe first-hand, 87 per cent of this age group claimed there was someone they would like to kiss under the mistletoe this year.
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. The 2015 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."
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.
In the past 20 years, industry sales data shows mistletoe sales have declined by 15 per cent year-on-year.