Here Comes the Sun

Today is March 20thThe Spring Equinox. Astronomically speaking, it marks the point in time when both hemispheres share the sun’s rays equally, causing the night and the day to be equal in length. In the Northern hemisphere, it is considered the beginning of spring! 

Historically, the beginning of spring is a time of excitement, optimism, and celebration across many cultures.  In Christianity, the ritual of coloring Easter eggs stems from the tradition of painting eggs in bright colors to represent the sunlight of spring. The Persian New Year, Nowruz – one of the oldest festivals in human history, celebrates the arrival of spring with many festivals across the Middle East and Central Asia. 

And of course, with celebration and festivities, comes love. Candan Ercetin, one of my favorite Turkish singers, utters these lyrics in her song Bahar (Spring) as she describes her falling in love experience: “Do I feel like this because it’s spring? Or did the spring suddenly arrive because I feel like this?”  

Ercetin is not the only one to see this parallel between falling in love and the springtime: The symptoms of a spring fever – restlessness, an increase in energy & vitality, as well as an  increased heart rate and a loss of appetite – are all associated with falling in love, too! In fact, according to a 2013 research study published in the Journal of Social Influence, women are more likely to give men their phone numbers when approached on the street if it’s sunny out. 

Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist as well as a leading expert on the biology of love and attraction, provides a biological explanation for what happens in our bodies when spring arrives and how this may relate to romantic attraction. 

One hormone that plays a role in this is melatonin, according to Fisher. The pineal gland (a tiny endocrine gland in your brain) produces high levels of melatonin during the winter months, making people more sleepy and drowsy and potentially less awake to romantic potential. In the spring, when the light hits the retina, and into the pineal gland, the melatonin production slows down. This reduction in melatonin is associated with increased energy and hormonal activity in the pituitary gland, which is also connected to an increase in our sexual appetite. 

Other key players are the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Love is associated with the dopamine system, which is activated by new experiences as well as exposure to sunlight. And spring comes with a lot of novelty and sunlight: Changing temperatures, smells, and colors all contribute to increased dopamine activity and make it easier for us to reach the threshold necessary to fall in love when we meet someone. Furthermore, serotonin, which is released more during the spring time due to changes in our circadian rhythms with more daylight exposure, contributes to an elevated mood and increased energy levels as well as an increase in our alertness. All of the above create a conducive environment for being receptive to potential partners. 

There seems to be a universal consensus on the parallel between love and the springtime, whether you choose to learn the the biology of it all and take Fisher’s words for it, or turn on Bahar by Candan Ercetin (Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles works too) and just appreciate it in your feels.