Make a traditional Cornish Kissing Bush

Mistletoe branch with green leaves and white berries on a gray textured background

Mistletoe branch forms part of the Kissing Bunch - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Forget the generic Christmas wreath and hang a Cornish Bunch is instead. We asked Cornish folklorist and author Alex Langstone to share the recipe

Traditionally, the Cornish Bunch uses holly, ivy and other evergreens and whatever was available to pick in the locality. A red candle is placed at the base and an apple hangs above it.

Bunches were hung from the ceiling on Winter Solstice eve, where just before midnight, the red candle was very carefully lit. Then those assembled would form a ring underneath the bush, and perform a dance to welcome the rebirth of the sun. 

In much the same way as kissing under the Mistletoe, it is customary in Cornwall to kiss under the bunch, and by doing this, luck was procured for the coming New Year.

Christmas kissing bush

Instead of an apple you can hang a bauble - Credit: Alex Langstone

In the past, the Cornish Bunch was hung from the central beam of farmhouse kitchens across Cornwall, and was a centre piece to the seasonal celebrations. It was also sometimes hung in the largest window, where it was believed to be a good luck charm. 

The easiest way to make a Cornish Bunch is to make two hoops from rolled up chicken wire, which is then formed into two individual hoops with a diameter of around 45 cm.

Creating a Cornish wreath

The kissing bush begins with shaped chicken wire - Credit: Alex Langstone

These hoops then need to be secured together at right angles. Using chicken wire is great, as it gives a good base for attaching the foliage.


Making a Cornish Kissing Bush

The ingredients for the bush include any winter greenery - Credit: Carol Burns

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Once secured, you can decorate with holly, ivy and other evergreens. You may need to secure the foliage with floristry wire.

Thread your apple and hang it from the top. Alternatively you can use a Christmas bauble.

Creating a Cornish Kissing Bush

The bush traditionally has an apple hung from the centre - Credit: Carol Burns

Add a candle - traditionally red - on to the base. Consider a battery powered or votive candle for safety. Traditionally this is lit and danced under (and kissed) on Christmas Eve.

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