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Classic Covers: A Kiss Under the Mistletoe

“…the Yule log and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids,” wrote Washington Irving (1783-1859). This Victorian couple under the mistletoe was on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post December 15, 1900. How many people have our cover artists caught under that infamous plant?

Couple Under the Mistletoe

Couple Under Mistletoe
Unknown
December 15, 1900

“…the Yule log and Christmas candle were regularly burnt, and the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids,” wrote Washington Irving (1783-1859). This Victorian couple under the mistletoe was on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post December 15, 1900. How many people have our cover artists caught under that infamous plant?

Stealing a Christmas Kiss by J.C. Leyendecker

Stealing a Christmas Kiss
JC Leyendecker
December 23, 1933

Never mind those feisty Victorians – this medieval couple is downright frisky. J.C. Leyendecker did this colorful cover for Christmas of 1933. Since the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe is said to date back to ancient times, such a scene may have very well occurred. Beyond the custom’s authenticity, the artist simply loved elaborate costumes – as did his famous protégé, below.

Mistletoe Kiss by Norman Rockwell

Mistletoe Kiss
Norman Rockwell
December 19, 1936

Norman Rockwell channeled colonial times for this cover from 1936. A traveler stopping in at the friendly tavern found mistletoe and proceeded to get, well, friendly, with a serving girl. Mistletoe as a plant is actually a parasite, spread by birds in a very non-romantic manner (through feces). Rather a humble beginning for something that came to represent amorous feelings.

Cousin Reginald Under the Mistletoe by Norman Rockwell

Cousin Reginald Under the Mistletoe
Norman Rockwell
December 22, 1917

Rockwell did several covers of city-slicker Cousin Reginald and his ornery country cousins for Country Gentleman magazine, a sister publication to the Post. Here Reginald’s cousin, Red, is coaxing a very embarrassed Reginald into his first kiss under the mistletoe. Well, the young lady is willing! This cover is from 1917. The plant has been considered sacred, and later, a fertility herb. Something to think about when you’re passing under doorways.

Woman Gazing Up at Mistletoe by Harrison Fisher

Woman Gazing Up at Mistletoe
Harrison Fisher
December 12, 1912

Back in 1908, we find another willing lady. Perhaps she’s wishing upon the mistletoe for a particular suitor to find her. This parasitic plant possibly became revered because it was rare to encounter it, and when one did find it in the dead of winter, it was green and thriving, unlike the tree on which it fed. The kissing under the mistletoe tradition is said to date back to Norse times. It is hard to picture marauding Vikings getting mushy over a plant, but there you are. Hagar the Horrible smooching Helga under the mistletoe? Hey, it could happen.

Girl Under Mistletoe by J.C. Leyendecker

Girl Under Mistletoe
JC Leyendecker
December 26, 1908

This cute cover is also from 1908. The young boy seems to want to fill out his dance card, but the girl appears to have more than a mere dance in mind. She isn’t budging until she gets a kiss! We agree – if you have mistletoe, don’t waste it – get your Christmas smooches. And have a happy holiday!

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