The Heart and Valentine’s…

by Sue Taggart

The romantics out there would have us believe that the heart is the source of all emotions. But, the reality is that the heart is basically the pump that keeps blood flowing through our bodies. It’s easy to see why the ancient Egyptians believed that the heart was the organ responsible for feelings and emotions, because as  it pumped blood throughout the body, there would be visible alterations in its beating that related to feelings of being happy, sad, angry, tired or anxious.

Today we know that it is not the heart that is responsible for these feelings or emotions, but in fact its the brain. I for one am sure that I do not want to see a brain on my Valentine’s card! No one is really sure when the “valentine heart” shape became the symbol for the heart. Some historians speculate that the heart symbols we use to signify romance and love came about from people’s early attempts to draw an organ they had never seen.

So, if the heart has nothing to do with it, what does? Neuroscientists studying the brain have realized that it is the limbic system in our brains that govern our emotions. It consists of several parts of the brain working together; the amygdala, the hippocampus, the basal ganglion, and the thalamus, as well as other parts. The heart quickens because of a psychosomatic reaction. The brain interprets visual cues and releases chemicals and hormones that in turn trigger physical reactions. For example, our pupils dilate when we see something or someone we are attracted too. Infatuation too has a scientific explanation—it’s hormonal—not a very romantic explanation, but, that at least explains a few things about infatuation. For instance, the chemical behind infatuation, oxytocin, only lasts about a year, which is why that giddy, head over heels, can’t live without the other person feeling begins to change. If we are lucky, that overwhelming desire moves into real love and deep feelings for the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with. If not….well we all know how that can end!

But when it comes to love and romance logic goes out the window—thank goodness! I love Valentine’s Day, it follows a close second to Christmas and Birthdays that I love equally. I just feel that any day we can express love and create some romance has to be a good day. We don’t have to get caught up in the “Hallmark hype”, or feel the need to blow a ton of money, just simple, sweet gestures that are heartfelt can be meaningful and memorable.

Here are a few of my favorite things when it comes to Valentine’s Day:

©         Roses – I am a traditionalist. Red roses were said to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. One perfect bloom says it all!

©        Chocolate covered strawberries – two of my favorite things combined…what could be better.

©        Staying in – a romantic candle lit dinner at home beats an overpriced restaurant any time. 

©        A romantic movie – the most romantic movies of all time…these are my top five: An Affair to Remember; Casablanca; The Notebook; A Walk To Remember; Titanic

 …what are yours?

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