What is love?
Webster's Dictionary defines love as: An intense feeling of deep affection, or, a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).
Reading a definition of a feeling, is like going to the doctor and having him explain everything to you in medical terms. It's cold. Feeling-less. Unnatural.
So, I've decided today to share with you some morsels of information on love and Valentine's Day (get it? morsels, as in chocolate ... hehehe ... I make myself laugh!).
Who was he? Why is he so important? Why are there red and pink hanging signs at stores depicting a baby, wearing a diaper and carrying a bow and arrow? Is it to promote violence at an early age? Is it to scare the store patrons away?
Of course not!
If you believe in myths, legends, folklore and fairytales, Cupid (Eros, for the Greek mythology peeps) is the son of Venus (Aphrodite, for the Greek mythology peeps) - the Goddess of love and beauty. This little bugger shoots his golden arrows into people's hineys to make them fall in love. Then when they'd fall in love, it was expected of them to give their thanks to Venus for her wonderful son, thus making her more beautiful and appealing. She'd then, in turn, make the world youthful and in bloom. But why is he so important? And why is his naked little hiney (in some depictions) out for the world to see?
Well, as the Beatles aptly put it, "All you need is love." It's true. The world revolves around love, and being in love. Think to yourself for a moment; remember back when you were a teenager and you saw that special someone walk by. Didn't your heart flutter in excitement? Didn't your palms sweat and your face flush? We won't even go into the biological aspect of seeing that person (having to flip a notebook in front of yourself, if you were a guy), but didn't you just melt when that person was near? Of course you did, don't deny it. It made your step a little lighter, it made your day a little brighter ... it might've even turned that frown upside-down (whoa, I'm full of cliche's today aren't I?).
Did you know that eating large quantities of chocolate can give you the same satisfying feeling of being in love? Well, if you didn't know, you do now. It's true. This Valentine's day, if you don't have a partner to share it with, don't fret. Simply go to the store and stock up on your favorite chocolates. Truffles, candy bars, M&M's, whatever chocolate that floats your boat. Pop in a favorite movie, sip some red wine (goes well with chocolate, trust me) and gorge on the brown stuff (white chocolate isn't really chocolate, so I can't say that it'll give you the same feeling as milk or dark chocolate - though white chocolate does NOT go well with red wine ... trust me!). You see, chocolate contains the same chemical that is produced in the body when you fall in love. When we eat chocolate, Phenylalanine is produced in our brains and creates the same feeling. It can quicken our pulse, give us those same sweaty palms, and even give a euphoric sensation. It's ok to admit, "We love chocolate." (Allowing chocolate to melt in your mouth produces the same or even stronger reactions as passionately kissing, so you don't have to admit you're going without this holiday.)
And while Hershey's may be the largest chocolate producer in the world, it was Richard Cadbury, back in the late 1800s, that created the first Valentine's Day candy box.
Some think that Valentine's Day is solely a day of love, but in actuality it's a day to honor the martyred Saint Valetine's, of which there were three; Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni, and Saint Valentine of Africa. Back in the beginning, February 14th was initially a Catholic Feast day for the Saints with no ties to romance or love, cupids or greeting cards (back then there were "greeting cards"; they were given as poems handed from person to person in greeting). It was in the 14th century that all former distinctions to the older Saints were lost, and February 14th became tied to the one Saint Valentine of love and romance.
Now usher in the late 1700s with lower postage costs and books published with verses of sentiments and love sonnets, it made way for young lovers to share their handwritten sentiments in the form of a post card or "Valentine". This new era made it easier to mail their feelings anonymously. The 19th century brought in "mechanical Valentines", or better known as "printer made Valentines", which were a lot less personal having been pressed and not handwritten. It was in the early 20th century when lovers expanded on this idea of greeting-card giving, by including gifts such as stuffed animals, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, and in the 1980s when jewelers wanted to cash in the craze by promoting diamonds and jewelry as another expression of love.
But did you know, the #1 receiver of Valentine's Day cards is not a man or woman buying for their spouse/partner? It's not even a parent giving one to their child. It's actually teachers. More Valentine's Day cards are given to teachers each year, than anyone else.
Did you know that nearly 1 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged each year, and 85% of those cards are purchased by women.
And did you know that in the Middle Ages, men and women drew names from a bowl and wore those names on their sleeves for one week. Those names drawn were then considered their "Valentines". The phrase, "Wearing your hear on your sleeve," actually came from this old tradition.
Lastly, in some countries if a woman accepts an item of clothing from a prospective suitor and wears it, it means she has accepted his proposal of marriage.
Why is an organ of the body (whether human, animal, or whatever) the object of Valentine's Day? Why is it a symbol of love and expressed in two hands curled together, or joined hands over a pregnant belly? Why is it shared on cards and drawn with squiggly lines? Why is it etched in tree bark, saying Joni <3's Chachi? Why?
Well, in the 12th century doctors and scientists all thought the heart was the centralized location of love and affection. But the actual physical heart doesn't even look like the heart depicted in our Valentine's Day images. Some say, it was an artist's attempt to draw a pair of his lover's lips, that gave us the image we see today. Others have said it was an attempt to draw a woman's bosom's, or perhaps the shape of a woman's rear-end... I guess we'll just never really know. But it's sure a great theory, ain't it?
So even if you're not with someone this lovely Valentine's Day, remember to load up with some chocolate, pop a cork, and cuddle up to a great movie (I recommend you avoid The Notebook, or anything Nicholas Sparks, less you want to become a blubbering mess, alone in your living room Bridget Jones' style). Happy Valentine's day to you, Ystävänpäivä, Sõbrapäev, Alla hjärtans dag, Valentinsdag, Dia dos Namorados, St Dwynwen's Day, San Valentín, Dragobete, Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου, Día del amor y la amistad, 情人节, 情人節, qíng rén jié, Araw ng mga Puso, 義理チョコ, 七夕 ... <-- Or however you say, Happy Valentine's Day in your native tongue!