A SUPERMARKET in Kidderminster is encouraging shoppers to pucker up this Christmas by handing out free sprigs of mistletoe.

Morrisons, in Green Street, is handing out the iconic festive plant in a bid to get the town kissing this festive season.

The supermarket has found kissing under the mistletoe could become extinct, as new research reveals 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.

Morrisons is one of the nation’s biggest retailers of the seasonal sprig and the store is hoping to turn around the trend by giving away mistletoe and sprinkling a little Christmas magic.

Zoe Phillips, store general manager at Morrisons Kidderminster, 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 (14 per cent) 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 among Britons 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, while fewer than one in ten (8 per cent) actually made one.

But while few younger Britons have enjoyed a kiss under the mistletoe first-hand, 87 per cent of this age group claimed there was someone they’d like to kiss under the mistletoe this year (80 per cent among all age groups).

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. 2015's 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.”

Mistletoe facts:

- 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

- According to Morrisons mistletoe buyer Glen Cooper, this year’s mistletoe crop will be one of the best for 10 years, due to ideal warmer and wetter growing conditions

- During Victorian times, if a girl refused a kiss whilst standing under mistletoe, it was said that she wouldn't receive any marriage proposals for at least a year, if not indefinitely

- In the past 20 years industry sales data shows mistletoe sales have declined by 15 per cent year-on-year

- To account for its increased mistletoe output this year, 250 Morrisons staff will be preparing 50,000 bunches of the seasonal spring on a mistletoe production line at its own 17.5 acre Flower World site in Derby – the supermarket is one of the nation’s biggest retailers of mistletoe.