Every great love story culminates with a kiss.
It typically comes toward the end, with a desire that’s been building over the course of an hour and some odd minutes. We hold our collective breath as the couple before us gaze into each other’s eyes (you know, the look) and begin to lean into a – sometimes awkward or sloppy but always heartwarming – French kiss.
But why are these specific kisses labeled French? In honor of International Kissing Day, we decided to look into the matter. Here’s what we learned:
French kissing became popular after WWI
The term “French kiss” entered the English vernacular in 1923, Sheril Kirshenbaum writes in her book “The Science of Kissing.”
No one really knows the exact reason why we use the term, but it was likely adopted by Americans who traveled to France and kissed French women, who were more comfortable with a bit of tongue action, says Kirshenbaum.
Naturally, the term “French kiss” developed.
Still, it took a while for the term – and even the practice – to catch on in the United States.
It wasn’t until after World War II that Americans felt comfortable enough to French kiss each other, says Kirshenbaum. She credits American servicemen who served in Europe with bringing the kissing style home.
Remember that iconic photo of a US sailor kissing a woman in Times Square? Exactly.
It’s no big deal in France
Of course, it wasn’t called a “French kiss” in France. It was just a kiss.
The French didn’t even have a word for the style of kissing until 2014, when the Petit Robert dictionary added a new verb: “Galocher.” It literally means “to kiss with tongues.”
Even with the addition, the Academie Francaise, which regulates French and guards against foreign words intruding on the language, has yet to accept the word.
Clearly, the French are more uptight about their prose than their pecks.
Smooching is great for your health
Today, we honor kisses – of all varieties – with “International Kissing Day.”
Yes, it sounds silly. But kissing can actually be a good thing to promote.
According to studies, kissing helps reduce blood pressure, increases hormones that make you feel happy (serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin), burns calories, boosts self-esteem and even fights cavities.
And while a good kiss can start a life-long romance, a bad one can quickly end any chance of a new relationship.
Most of all, kissing – especially the French kind – is fun.
So, the next time you pucker up for an open-mouth galocher, remember who to thank for it.