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The Interesting History Behind Our Most Romantic Traditions

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Ah, romance. From the time we’re very young, many of us dream of the first time we’ll be kissed or when the one will pop the big question. Here, we uncover where some of our most anticipated romantic gestures actually come from.

Why do we kiss?

Nothing makes us weak at the knees quite like a passionate kiss. Even seeing romantic embraces in films can make our stomachs do back-flips. So perhaps it’s not surprising, given our fascination, that there’s a whole science dedicated to the study of kissing — philematology. This is designed to discover why we do it, how it benefits us, and what it really means.

CNN Health reported that kissing provides sensory clues — including taste, sound, and smell that instinctively help the kisser decide if they want to carry on kissing the object of their affections.

So why are these sensory clues important? Well, according to Helen Fisher, author of Why Him, Why Her: Finding Real Love by Understanding your Personality Type, women are normally attracted to men who have a different immune system makeup from their own. They subconsciously detect information about a partner’s immune system through smell, during kissing. So it’s actually strangely practical, as well as being romantic.

Why do men give women flowers?

We’re always delighted to be surprised by flowers — especially if he knows our favorites — and this is a tradition that has origins from centuries ago. The Victorias in particular were keen on ascribing particular meanings to different types of flowers. For example, white camelias meant loveliness and daisies described childhood innocence. There were books published about the meaning of flowers and how you could have a whole conversation with only a bouquet.

Why do men traditionally escort women on their left arm?

This originates from medieval times, when men would escort women around town and through fields. It was important that they were on the gent’s left, as — should their honor require defending — the man’s sword hand would be free, giving him quick and easy access to his weapon.

Why do we wear engagement rings on the fourth finger of our left hand?

This one comes from the Egyptians, who believed that this finger was directly connected to the heart via the vena amoris, “the vein of love.”

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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