So you've taken that special someone to the movies at last! After weeks of hints, innuendoes and downright overt overtures, your soon-to-be-beloved has finally agreed to a date! Joy of joys! Your preparations for the evening go smoothly, and before you know it, you're both sitting in a darkened cinema, watching some appropriately sappy love story.

It's about an hour into the flick; you feel a great urge to "make your move". But is the timing right? A humourous yet romantic scene just occured in the film, and your date, giggling, just glanced at you with warm eyes. Is he/she hinting something? Should you move in for "the kill?" Is your date thinking the same thing you are (of course they are, silly!)? Around you are dozens more new couples going through the same dilemma. Is the time right?

How much easier would it be if at a predetermined point of the movie a little noise sounded to signal all amorous couples to commence snuggling? Some audible indication that the time to act is now. Damn easier, I say!

Well, those pesky Irish sure knew what they were doing back in the day when it came to dating. A "kissing signal" was a short, shrill note played on the strings behind the bridge of the fiddle by the lead fiddler during an Irish ceili (or square dance, of sorts) to signify an opportunity for all lads in the audience to attempt a quick peck on their lasses' collective cheeks. Often the fiddler would also exclaim "Kiss da lasses!" (or something to that effect), so as to punctuate the occasion. Usually, the ladies wouldn't mind all that much either, having had the initial ice broken in a rather communal and relatively innocent manner.

So with the ice broken for all the young couples in the cinema by the "kissing signal", you can now get back to (ahem)... "enjoying" the movie. Cheers!

Joseph Wright's English Dialect Dictionary, 1905.
George Stewart's Shetland Fireside Tales, 1892.

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