Cloved Lemon

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Using a Cloved Lemon, also called a Clove Lemon, Cloven Lemon and the Cloved Lemon Kissing Game, began in the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), but has been adopted by other groups, primarily the Discordians. Cloved lemons are often handed around at revels, parties, camping and other events.

How to play

  • (This section is from Ek-sen-trik-kuh Discordia: The Tales of Shamlicht, Principia Harmonia, and Et Cetera Discordia. It was released into the public domain. Note that these books use "e" as a genderless substitute for "he" or "she".)

This holy ritual was discovered by members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, which stubbornly insists it is not a division of the Ek-sen-triks CluborGuild. (The SCA was founded on the anniversary of the Bavarian Illuminati in 1966 in California, just one year after Principia Discordia was first published in California, which sounds mighty suspicious to us). The ritual has five steps, naturally.

1. Someone, the Lemon Clover, inserts cloves into a fresh lemon (or some other fruit, in which case this person is the Some Other Fruit Clover. But pucker-inducing lemons generally work best). Making a pattern with the cloves is optional. Possible patterns include a heart, smiley face, the number five, the Sacred Chao, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It’s generally best to prepare the lemon shortly before the game begins, although the cloved lemon can be refrigerated for a short while.

2. One person, the Giver, hands the cloved lemon to someone e would like to kiss, called the Receiver. Usually this is done at a party or other get-together, except funerals. The game generally happens while other things are going on, sometimes continuing through a whole party.

3. The Receiver then takes a clove out with es teeth to freshen es breath. If the Receiver doesn’t like the taste of cloves, e may use es hand. If played in a hot tub, declare a non-breakable container to be the Sacred Used Clove Receptacle. If played anywhere else, a clove may be deposited wherever is appropriate, as swallowing cloves can be pretty nasty.

4. The Receiver indicates the body part the Giver may kiss by offering that body part to the Giver and/or pointing to it. Usual locations are the hand, cheek, lips, open mouth/tongue. Unusual locations are left to the imagination. However, the nature of the kiss should always be mutually agreeable. The Giver should be gracious, even if the kiss is less intimate than e desired.

5. The Receiver now becomes the Giver, and goes to Step 2. This continues until your lemon runs out of cloves (in which case you may either end the game or go to Step 1), or players run out of body parts. (But body parts, unlike cloves, are reusable. And rekissable).


The cloved lemon kissing game was likely created in the 20th century (possibly in 1974) in the SCA. It bears similarities to practices of the historical period covered by the SCA, which is primarily Europe from the 5th through the 16th century CE.

In a French custom from the time of the Crusades, a knight could impress a lady by giving her a citrus fruit, often a lemon, that was pierced by whole cloves. Both citrus fruit and cloves were extremely expensive, so it made an impressive gift.

According to Alexandre sur le Mer, this practice was an inspiration for Alizaunde de Breguef, who may have made the first cloved lemon for kissing in A. S. VIII. This was in the Canton of the Towers, Barony of Carolingia of the East Kingdom.

The cloved lemon is sometimes referred to as a "cloven lemon," which would literally mean a lemon that is split.

While this phrase seems to be an error, this usage may be a reference to an original source. In William Shakespeare's comedy Love's Labour's Lost, first published in 1598, the following dialog is found in Act V, Scene II (numbers indicate lines in the play):

672 The armipotent Mars, of lances the almighty,
673 Gave Hector a gift,--

674 A gilt nutmeg.

675 A lemon.

676 Stuck with cloves.

677 No, cloven.


When the cloved fruit was a thing, it was a different time. The SCA did start in Berkeley during the Hippie days and free love. There were a some people exercising that freedom, and others were not. But there was a lot of tolerance of many many opinions - think IDIC (Infinite diversity in infinite combinations). There was a respect for the word no. But there was also a highly developed "art of seduction." A graceful way of flirtatious charm that was not licentious. But it was another time. The tradition fell out-of-favor particularly because of the rise of certain communicable diseases. I am sure in today's environment it would be considered by many to be, "creepy." I do remember one event which went too far. One of the ladies (as a joke perhaps) brought in a full bag of cloved lemons and oranges. I think there was almost as many cloved fruits as there were people. By the end of the evening, even the most lusty adolescents were turning their backs on anyone with a fruit. The bag went missing before the end of the night and everyone seemed relieved. EDIT: I was informed by someone who has been in the SCA even longer than I that there were a few people creepy enough that the tradition almost ended before it began. Sad to hear, good to know. ~Eadwynne

"When the cloved fruit was a thing, it was a different time." Considering the game was just played at an event this month (June 2022), I must respectfully disagree. And kissing games go back well before the SCA. Seven Minutes in Heaven goes back at least as far as the mid 20th century; Spin the Bottle goes back at least as far as the early 20th century; Post Office goes back before that. In fact, kissing games were quite popular in Victorian England. And they're hardly limited to decades past: The television series "Kissing Game" had its official trailer released almost exactly two years ago, in June 2020.

The reactions I've seen to the game have almost always been positive, or at least neutral. The key component is that, if done properly, no one is forced or coerced to do anything they don't want to do. Eldwin Nightowl (talk) 21:00, 15 June 2022 (PDT)