Valentine’s Day and how love REALLY works

Honestly, all the fuss over Valentine’s Day (and who doesn’t want to get a Valentine, really … deep down? No? You sure?) and it appears to be a made-up festival, possibly introduced by Pope Gelasius I in AD496 to get rid of a lingering pagan festival that was much more interesting.

:] *crooked smile*

Lupercalia

From February 13 – 15, people used to celebrate a cleansing festival that was supposed to drive out the evil spirits and purify the places where they lived. They ran naked in the streets or wherever, and partied.  A lot. There was a lot of shagging.

See, it wasn’t a festival particularly for couples; more about celebrating fertility and cleansing the space. It was mainly people who were single, selecting each other for the next year. Or just that night. Who knows?

Married women joined the fray (but not the selection) to increase their fertility and probably just because they didn’t want to miss out. I want to presume that married men also did that, but I can’t find any information about it.

Most women aren’t going to admit to a desire to line up and be whipped with the bloodied pelts of just-sacrificed goats and dogs, but that’s possibly one of the happy community activities that took place during the original Lupercalia. Increases fertility. Honest. Did I mention the shagging?

lupercalia-festival

Is she laughing or crying?

Many traditional Valentine’s Day games are about drawing names out of a hat and selecting a partner, so they clearly link back to the old festival, even if they’ve been thoroughly sanitised by various powers-that-be at some point in Christianised history.

Oh, and the love heart?  It’s a symbol of womanhood, her lips swollen, parting gently and ready to be entered!

What is love, anyway?

The infatuation stage of love is shaped by the release of hormones, triggered when you meet someone who appears to align all your current desires. You’re most likely to be attracted to someone whose genes you subconsciously like. That probably explains why physical opposites attract, too.

You get three stages: lust, attraction, and attachment, with a different set of hormones ruling the physical game for each stage. Testosterone and oestrogen drive the first part, but it’s the second phase that is the most famous on Valentine’s Day.

Attraction comes with the madness of being in love, driven by serotonin, a feel-good hormone that makes you crazy.

It makes you feel amazing, because you get a rush of dopamine, which is incidentally also the result of cocaine, cigarette smoking, and even sadistic sex and torture. The problem with dopamine, is that your body gets used to it very quickly, so you have to take more or do more of the stimulant behaviour to get the same high each time.

Attraction also kick-starts an adrenalin rush, which gives you the pounding heart and the inability to breathe. And hot sweats for some lucky folks.

Oh yes, being in love is fabulous.

After sex

After you’ve shagged, the bodies of both of you will be flooded with oxytocin, one hell of a  bonding hormone. It’s triggered by cuddling, kissing, hugging, and similar, and in countries where people greet each other with a hug and a kiss (think France) the population produces more oxytocin than those who greet with a handshake or nothing.

Interestingly, oxytocin also causes people to be very hostile to outsiders to the union. (Or the tribe. Think France ;-). In the case of love, this partly explains the nightmare situations between partners and ex-partners that occur more often than you might think.

That’s how love works.

Bright blessings!

Heart image c/o www.clavielle.com
Image c/o whathappenedtoguentherlause.wordpress.com

Maggie Moon

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