In honor of the sweet holiday, Valentine’s Day, we are exploring not only the history of this so called “hallmark holiday,” but also the science of love.
Some tales say that Valentine’s Day originated from the patron Saint Valentine who performed secret marriage ceremonies after the Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage to build an army of strong single men. Supposedly, Saint Valentine was put to death when the Emperor found out. In remembrance of his heroic life, a feast day was set for Feb. 14. However, Valentine’s Day was not romantically associated until the 14th century when Geoffrey Chaucer intertwined St. Valentine’s Day into his love poem. Where today’s celebrations of Valentine’s Day actually arose, we can only speculate.
From tales and speculation to science; there is in fact science behind love. It appears that the metaphor “love is sweet” may be more realistic then metaphorical. Studies show that when people are in love or thinking of love, even water is perceived to taste sweeter. Psychologists call these “embodied” metaphors. Findings from these studies show that the difference isn’t in taste buds, but instead arises from the brain’s processing of taste information. However, psychologists believe that the “embodied” metaphors may only develop after a lot of experience, most likely, linking back to infancy.
Science or not, it can be argued that this holiday has, in fact, evolved into a “hallmark holiday.” According to the National Retail Federation, Valentine’s Day sales are expected to reach a total of $15.7 billion. Try surprising your Valentine this year with some science instead of chocolate!