Isn't kissing great?! Lana Citron, author of A Compendium of Kisses, has written a quirky and fascinating book all about the science, history, social etiquette, symbolism and varied behaviour behind this most simple, yet complex of acts.
And on that note, did you know...
1) The first recorded kiss was traced to 1500 BC in India. Vedic scriptures mention people ‘sniffing’ with mouths and describing lovers ‘setting mouth to mouth’.
2) Using X as a ‘kiss’ sign goes back to when people signed their names with an X, followed by a kiss upon the letter to show sincerity. X was the Paleo Hebrew letter Tav, symbol of the Seal of Hashem representing truth, completeness and perfection. Rabbi Brasch, in his work on the history of sex links it to the symbol for two mouths kissing >-<.
3) Kissing was a sign of rank in Roman and Hellenic times. Equals would kiss mouth to mouth, an inferior would kiss an superior’s cheek. If there was a great difference in rank, the inferior would kiss the ground.
4) Although chimpanzees are known to give pecks on the lips, only humans and bonobos engage in kissing with tongues.
5) Public displays of affection have been banned in many places, Britain amongst them. In early 2009 ‘no kissing’ signs were introduced in Warrington Bank Station – to help ease congestion.
6) The International Scientific Forum states that greeting someone with a kiss on the cheek is more hygienic than shaking hands.
7) Other health benefits include: brain stimulation, boosting self-esteem, helps decrease blood pressure and cholesterol and sharing bacteria can aid your immune system. People who kiss regularly are less likely to suffer from stomach, bladder and blood infections.
8) An orphanage study found that infants who were rarely kissed or held died of a disease known as infant marasmus, which literally means ‘wasting away’.
9) Some parental habits in certain tribes are unusual. The Yanomami of Venezuela have been known to kiss or suck their baby sons’ penises to improve their moods.
10) A human embryo has a mouth and set of lips at six weeks old, or half an inch long.
11) Kissing burns, on average 2-6 calories per minute.
12) According to Alex Comfort, author of The Joy of Sex, “a good mouth kiss should leave it’s recipient breathless but not asphyxiated”.
Lana Citron will be at Ways with Words on Thursday 15th July at 9pm. Tickets £9 and available online or via the box office on 01803 867 373.