Someone approaches you with a cloved lemon. You can do one of two things.
- Take the cloved lemon.
- Politely refuse the cloved lemon.
If you choose option 1, you take a clove out of the fruit with your teeth (don't bite too hard into the clove. It'll taste revolting, and it'll make your whole mouth go numb ;) The clove is supposed to freshen your breath. You then indicate to the person who gave you the fruit where to kiss you - often the hand, cheek or lips, it depends on your comfort level with the person who gave it to you. You then find another victim - oops! person to pass it on to.
If you choose option 2, and there is NO shame at all in doing this. It is not impolite to refuse a cloved lemon, and your decision is respected (and often understandable). There is, of course, the other option - whenever you hear mention of a cloved lemon being passed around, to just avoid it like Plague (see: Black Death) and go outside for a cigarette.
Why do we use cloved lemons?
In period, you never wandered up to a stranger and introduced yourself. You were always introduced by a third party. This is a little too rigid for our modern society. Instead, we have taken the third party and made it a lemon.
How did this get made up? There's plenty of mythology about this. There is no doubt that the cloved lemon was made up (in 1974, some say []), but it strikes a resonance because it bears some simularity to a few period items and practises, just enough that people keep trying to search for the period origins of this practise. Related practises:
- Citrus may have been covered in spices to serve as a pommander
- Citrus fruit were expensive gifts in the 12th to 14th century, as they were not native to europe, rather luxuries brought back by crusaders
- cloves may have been used to sweeten the breath in medeival times (proof needed)
- kissing games did occur in medival times