Kissing Games

28 Aug

Kristen Koster is one of those First Friends of Writing who you know you’re going to keep forever. She’s also got one of the best blogs on Regency Writing around. But today, she’s going to talk about kissing games. Get your bottles ready!


Why is it every generation believes that they’re the first to discover kissing games? Spin the Bottle, Postman, Truth or Dare or even just playing a game of Tag, where the method of tagging is a kiss. These have been around for ages.

I have to admit, I was appalled to find my daughter and her friends playing Truth or Dare at a slumber party at our house two years ago. Oh, not so much that they were playing it… but that they were relying on an app to provide questions and dares. Have we lost all sense of imagination?

The truth is, when you put a bunch of hormonal youth together, you’re gonna get experimentation. It doesn’t matter when or where. Curiosity is gonna get the better of them, especially if there’s a lack of supervision (which leads to things like 7 Minutes in Heaven where anything goes) or possibly even more surprising, adult sanctioned activities that allowed youths to explore their sexual compatibility.

What?! Encouraged sexual exploration? I know Bria likes to keep this PG-13, but wait-a-minute… what on earth am I talking about here? Especially since the time period that I write in was 200 years ago and I know you’re thinking, “Weren’t they tight-laced, prim and proper goody-goody-two-shoes?”

Well, in 19th Century France, young couples would meet at their churches to practice “maraichinage” or what would come to be known as “French Kissing”. Couples would engage in some tongue dueling and their partners changed on a weekly basis. In some regions, this meant kissing behind parasols for some semi-privacy, but in others, the youths were forced to sit on opposite sides of narrow benches. In either case, this was a socially acceptable way to judge a potential spouse’s compatibility, or rather, it was until the clergymen banned the practice on the grounds that it was loveless and done only for the pleasure of kissing. Can you imagine?

In Regency England, things weren’t much different. Parlor games allowed a bit of naughtiness to creep into what we think of an as otherwise staid and proper society. In the game of “Blind Man’s Bluff”, one player sat in a chair and their identity had to be guessed by a blindfolded individual only by touching them. The game of “Guess the Kiss” was similar, only the blindfolded person was kissed and had to identify their kisser. I’ve seen a print possibly also from Le Bon Genre of an unknown game that looks an awful lot like a naughty version of Twister.

I can only imagine that many different cultures throughout time have had their own versions of kissing games as a way to size up their potential mates. There probably haven’t been as many variations on the basic themes as each generation would like to believe they’re responsible for inventing either. But we can hope imagination and common sense don’t become lost to future generations.

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"Bride Kissage"Kristen Koster grew up totally left-brained and logical but always enjoyed right-brained and creative activities too. She started reading her mom’s stash of historical romance novels in the early 80s and never really stopped. Reading over 30 novels one summer in college convinced her she could do better. But life had other plans, including the introduction of her own hero to smooch. Twenty years into their HEA (after detours through some graduate work in Economics, a stint in online game design and wrangling two kids into their teenage years), she finally found her way back to writing Regency romance. One day, she might even get a novel published, if she can just stop over-analyzing everything. You can also find her on Twitter at @KristenKoster.

6 Responses to “Kissing Games”

  1. Bria Quinlan August 28, 2012 at 10:30 am #

    It’s always great to hear about another time… I’m reading this and thinking, Really? Who would have known? 😉

  2. Jeannie Lin August 28, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    The tidbit about the French ritual of “maraichinage” reminded me of the early American practice of bundling. Love the kissing trivia!

  3. Kristen Koster (Kaige) August 28, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    I thought the same thing, Jeannie! Especially the ones seated on the narrow benches. I suspect the lucky ones behind the parasols had a much better time.

    One of the other things I read during the research (read surfing) for this post, was how what we think of as “French Kissing” probably started out as a way to test a potential mate for illness. Takes ALL the fun out of it… the French (and not those spoilsport clergymen!) had the right idea, I think. 😉

  4. Jeannie Lin August 28, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Re: French kissing – now this isn’t kissing history, it’s more kissing science. Do you know that kissing (via the exchange of saliva) boosts your immune system? Ok, that sounds kind of gross, but it’s really cool. Kissing is good for you. 🙂

  5. Kristen Koster (Kaige) August 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    I can just hear it now… “Mom! It’s TOTALLY ok to french kiss all those different boys after school. I’m just boosting my immune system!”

    Thanks for having me today, Bria! Thanks again for such a lovely intro!

  6. Jillian Stone August 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    Say what you will about the French––they know how to kiss! Did they invent French kissing or do we attribute the honor to them?

    Wonderful post, Kristen. Sorry I got here late!

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