Why is the heart associated with the symbol of love? Where did it come from, how long has it been in use? Do you wonder what its story is?
The symbol of the heart is a bit mysterious. Aristotle though the heart was the center of all emotions. Surely, everyone who has been heartbroken feels that heaviness in the center of the chest. Of course, when someone is excited, the heart beats faster. Thus, it is a natural inclination to associate heart with passion.
According to some historians, the heart-shaped symbol that represents love and adoration has been here since the existence of man. Many classical philosophers and scientists, including Aristotle, considered the heart the seat of thought, reason or emotion, often rejecting the value of the brain.
But the icon and the real thing share nothing in common at all. The real heart is shaped like a yellow/red football and the symbol of a heart is drawn in a stylized shape. Usually colored with red, which suggest blood, passion and strong emotions. It is also associated with romantic poetry, Valentine's day and chocolate boxes.
Some historians say that one possible origin of the shape of the heart is a seed pod. The plant Silphium, a type of fennel, whose seeds are distinctly heart-shaped has been extinct for over two Millennium. It can also be seen engraved on the ancient coins of the city of Cyrene.
The Greeks believed the plant was a gift from Apollo, archer/god of medicine and healing, light, truth, a bringer of death-dealing plague or also know as the sun-god in Greek Mythology. The plant appeared after a heavy rain storm flooded the city of Cyrene. But evidence of Silphium was used much earlier in Egypt and Libya. Because of its varied medical uses and scarcity, it was considered to be worth its weight in denarii during Roman times. Eventually, they harvested the plant to extinction.
And why did the seed pod possibly rank itself as the premiere symbol of love and romance? Maybe because Silphium was the main ingredient for the most highly effective natural birth-control medicine of its time. It was used as an herbal contraceptive. So its shape may have come to be associated with sexuality and love.
Also, the heart shape is formed by the back and wings of a dove, which was associated with Aphrodite, the ancient Greek Goddess of Love.
Regardless of how the heart became a symbol of love, it remains the most recognized symbol of Valentine' Day.