Millions commemorated Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday this week. But what happened to the strange tradition of Kissing Friday? Until about the start of World War Two, the girls of Yorkshire were allowed to finish school before their male colleagues - at least for one day a year. The reason was that on Kissing Friday, boys were allowed to kiss them without fear of getting a slap or being chased by an angry parent. On Kissing Friday, "boys could kiss the girls until 12 noon, but they had to catch them first, which resulted in much chasing round the schoolyard". On the same day, the village of Sileby in Leicestershire took thing even further. Its variant of Kissing Friday was known as Nippy Hug Day, and if any female spurned the offer of a kiss, the male was allowed to pinch her bottom, a practice known as "lousing". Some boys strung ropes across the street to create a makeshift "toll" point, where they collected kisses.
These traditions largely died out by the middle of the 20th Century, but appear to have been uncontroversial at the time. In 1938, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported how Kissing Friday had been the greatest day of the year among children before World War One, and that boys had been kept behind after school for an hour to delay their approach. The event was still being celebrated, but in a "less boisterous fashion than formerly". A year later, in 1939, the Leeds Mercury said there was "no evidence that the custom is being allowed to die. As part of the custom, the girls at local schools are allowed to go home before the boys are allowed out. But not all of the girls avail themselves of the opportunity."
But Kissing Friday faded soon afterwards. There was an attempt to revive Nippy Hug Day in Sileby during the 1970s, but it didn't last. By 1990, the Leicester Mercury quoted women in the city bemoaning that men, imbued with modern ideas of sexual equality, "don't seem very keen this year".
So, what do you think of Kissing Friday?
- Sounds amusing- might have been funVote A
- Sounds horrific- glad it died outVote B
- Sounds tiresome- wouldn't have liked itVote C
- Sounds great- let's bring it backVote D