With it being International Kissing Day this Saturday (6th July) we’ve had a quick look at the history of kissing and why it makes us so happy!
It seems there’s more to kissing than meets the lips. Here are my top 10 kissing titbits:
- If we trace kissing back through the ages it appears to have started out as a smell, with 1500BC scriptures describing kissing as a sniff. Indeed, Eskimos still prefer to rub noses
- At various times, there have been all sorts of weird smooching bans. In 1439, King Henry VI banned kissing in England and in 16th-Century Naples, not only was kissing in public banned, but it was also punishable by death
- It seems kissing is about more than love and affection. It raises your heart and metabolic rate, so is good for your general health. Factor in smell, touch and taste and a kiss becomes an exchange of sensory and biological information. Studies have shown that kissing acts as a sort of compatibility test – trading saliva is one way to figure out if someone is a good fit.
- A scientific study once determined that partners who get a peck on the cheek before heading out to work lived five years longer than their kiss-less counterparts
- Human lips are everted (exposed outwards, not like chimps whose are inward) making then a key focal point of the face. Woman paint their lips to make them redder and fuller, a tradition that’s become part of the mating process. Factor in the fact that lips have very nerve-rich skin, so lip-on-lip action sends a whoosh of signals to the brain and there’s a rush of serotonin (happy chemical) and dopamine (feel-good chemical, the same one that’s released if you take drugs). It seems therefore that kissing can be addictive
- But not everyone is a kissing addict. Spare a thought for the philemaphobics; those who have a fear of kissing. I can’t help thinking they’re missing out?
- A British study tracked the number of kisses it takes for men and women to find lasting love. The result? 15 kisses for women and 16 for men. They also found that two thirds of people tilt their head to the right when they kiss.
- The world record for the longest kiss is held by Thai couple who stuck at it for more than 2 and a half days (58 hours, 35 minutes and 58 seconds to be exact)
- Over 400,000 tourists gather to kiss the Blarney Stone near Cork, Ireland, every year – making it the most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world
- Researchers have found that most people can remember their first kiss more vividly than their first sexual encounter
On reflection, having studied happiness for 15 years, I’ve realised that you don’t need a PhD in anything to understand that kissing is great. If you do it right, it’s good for both parties. And although philematology is a science, kissing is most definitely an art.
National kissing day gives you the perfect excuse to pucker up and practise.
Words : Andy Cope
Andy Cope is a happiness expert and author of The Little Book of Being Brilliant. For more information see www.artofbrilliance.co.uk.