By Chandni Jhunjhunwala
1. What's an "X" got to do with kisses?
Sent your mate a text message signed XOXO recently? The symbols go way back, all the way to medieval times. Back then, people who couldn't write used the "X" symbol to sign documents. Then, in the presence of a witness, they kissed the "X" as a show of their heartfelt honesty.
Plus: 13 Things Your Florist Won't Tell You
2. Who was St. Valentine?
Valentine's Day originates with Valentine, a bishop (and a real-life cupid), who secretly performed wedding ceremonies for soldiers during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II. The emperor had forbidden soldiers from marrying during the war for fear that it would distract them. Valentine was caught, imprisoned and executed on February 14. During his time in prison, he is rumored to have fallen for his jailor's daughter and sent her a love letter signed "From your Valentine."
©2010 Jupiterimages Corporation
3. Where did the
Blog Posts by Reader s Digest Magazine
- Reader s Digest Magazine | Love + Sex – Tue, Feb 2, 2010 10:17 PM EST
By Chandni JhunjhunwalaRead More »from 5 Things You Didnâ€™t Know About Valentineâ€™s Day
By Liz KennedyRead More »from 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Super Bowl
1. Super Bowl parties are second only to Thanksgiving…
in food consumption. The big game fan's food of choice? The avocado. Snopes.com estimates that about 8 million pounds of avocados are sold in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday. Check out our Ultimate Super Bowl Snack Menu (which, of course, includes a guacamole recipe).
PLUS: 9 Delicious Avocado Recipes and 7 Easy Chicken Wing Recipes
2. Forget the countdown. It's the touchdown that is the top at-home party event of the year.
About 7.5 million parties are held on Super Bowl Sunday with 43.9 million party attendees. Having guests over for the big game? Make a sandwich for 12!
3. It's an American tradition with global popularity.
Football is as American as apple pie so you might be surprised at how popular it is around the world. The big game is broadcast across the globe in 232 countries and territories and in 34 languages.
By Stacy W. JohnsonRead More »from 6 Secrets to Stop Wasting Cash Now
In his new book, Life or Debt 2010, Johnson advocates destroying debt by finding extra money within your current budget, not by deprivation. The first thing to do in your hunt for debt-destroying cash is to stop wasting money. Think you're innocent? Read on.
1. Not buying generics: While it's true that some generics don't measure up in quality to their higher-priced cousins, it's also true that other generics are literally identical. Generic buffered aspirin isn't almost like Bayer. It's identical except for packaging and price. True of hundreds of items from patent medicines to bleach to spices. If you ever buy a name brand when there's a cheaper and identical generic substitute available, you're wasting cash.
PLUS: 10 Smart Money Moves to Make in Tough Times
2. Overpaying for Insurance: You have a small fender bender, but rather than report the $1,000 damage to your insurance company and risk an expensive blemish on your record, you pay for it yourself. Fine.
Interviews by Michelle CrouchRead More »from 13 Things Your Florist Won't Tell You
1. If you want more flowers for your money, find a florist in your recipient's town and call him directly. But it's harder than you think: some florists in the yellow pages and at the top of your Google search are national businesses masquerading as local ones. They even buy local phone numbers. So make sure you look for a physical address in town.
2. Our smartest customers ask for a bunch of those packets. Most of us will gladly give you extras.
PLUS: 7 Valentine's Day Waiters' Secrets
3. Put away those scissors, which can crush the stem. Instead, use a sharp, non-serrated knife to cut a quarter of an inch off the bottom of stems, at an angle. While you're at it, cut off those leaves below the water line. They breed bacteria.
4. Looking for a way to jazz up your red roses? Try pairing them with purple statice or heather. Or ask us: "What can you put in that will really make her roses stand out?"
PLUS: Top 10 Aphrodisiacs for Valentine's Day
By Joseph K. Vetter and Eamonn Fingleton
Many objects taken for granted actually have exotic locales tied to their history. Find out where denim, alcohol, chocolate and more come from.
From 30 Minutes a Day to a Healthy HeartRead More »from 10 Ways to Right-Size Your Diet
Portion distortion is one of the prime causes of America's obesity epidemic, yet most of us don't realize that we overeat -- or that when it comes to reining in calories, serving size is crucial. Here's how you can downsize your portions and still feel satisfied.
PLUS: Get healthy snacking tips and see 5 healthy snacks for 100 calories.
1. Contemplating seconds? Wait 10 minutes.Your stomach needs about that long to signal the brain that it's full, so stall before helping yourself to more mashed potatoes or lasagna. Keep the conversation going, tell a joke, or if you're dining alone, read the newspaper or walk around the house. If you're truly hungry after the delay, have seconds of the veggies or salad.
2. Quit the clean plate club. One in four Americans eat everything they're served no matter how big the portions, surveys reveal. A better strategy: Eat a healthy portion, then stop. It's better to waste a little food (and save it for tomorrow)
By Andy SimmonsRead More »from 11 As Seen on TV Products Reviewed
Our annual ★★★★ ratings of the gadgets sold on TV.
There I was, parked in front of the TV set at 2:30 in the morning, eating a Suzy Q and watching a rerun of WKRP in Cincinnati, when an infomercial about a little egglike device that scrapes away foot calluses cut in. I was simultaneously engrossed and grossed out by the image of discarded foot shavings, and then a thought crossed my mind: I need a PedEgg! Then another: I don't think I can finish my Suzy Q. Thus began my bizarre odyssey into the wonderful, wacky, weird, "What the …?" world of the infomercial-the official domain of the "Why didn't I think of that?" product. After maxing out my credit card on stuff that my wife politely dubbed questionable, I discovered that some were shoddy, some were enticing but just missed the mark, and others? Well, simply put, they were brilliant!
To make sure you know which is which, Reader's Digest staffers joined me in testing and rating As Seen on TV products, ranking them on
On Tuesday, January 12, a massive earthquake struck Haiti near the capital of Port-au-Prince. Government officials fear the death toll will top 100,000. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake has injured and left homeless thousands of Haitians and demolished countless buildings, including schools, hospitals and the presidential palace. The earthquake is particularly devastating in a country stricken with extreme poverty and a history of political unrest.Read More »from Haiti Earthquake Relief: 10 Ways You Can Help
PLUS: See photos of the aftermath of the earthquake.
1. American Red Cross
Providing immediate and long-term support for basic needs such as food, water, temporary shelter, medical services, and emotional support.
2. World Vision
Distributing life-saving supplies such as food, clean water, blankets, and tents to families devastated by the earthquake.
Deploying essential aid and helping reconnect children who have been separated from their families.
Concentrating on getting clean water and sanitation
By Joe KitaRead More »from Fighting Fat Around the World
PLUS: 19 weight loss secrets from around the world and watch video of people around the world stepping on the scale.
Remember those heart-tugging TV commercials in which Sally Struthers implored us to help fight world hunger? Well, we reached a strange tipping point recently. According to an October report from the World Health Organization (WHO), more people worldwide now die from being overweight and obese than from being underweight. Although world hunger remains a significant problem, it's our appetite for prosperity and all its spoils that's more likely to kill us now.
According to WHO, there are approximately 1.6 billion overweight or obese people in the world; at least 2.5 million deaths are attributable to these conditions annually. Nearly 18 million children under age five are estimated to be overweight. How long do you think it will be before some celebrity appears on our TV screens showing pictures of plump toddlers and beseeching us to help them fight fat?
By Meaghan Cameron
We found 10 foods that are linked with love. Sample the recipes in our countdown with your sweetie and find out if these aphrodisiacs really work!