It's February and hearts are abound. They have been hung in windows, on walls and plastered on bags of candy. Not real ones though, that would be gross and messy, just imagine the liability. As we well know, the hearts that seem persistently in our line of vision this time of year bear very little resemblance to our actual hearts. So, why has the ubiquitous “heart shape” become the symbol of Valentine’s Day and our preferred representation of love itself? Turns out we’re as unsure about the origins of the ideograph as you are about your upcoming blind date.
Sultry Sex Symbol?
This plant was mostly used as a seasoning but was reputed to have another use as a contraceptive. Yep, ancient Greeks and Romans seasoned their food with birth control, but don’t go looking for it to sprinkle on your Valentine’s Day surf and turf. This plant was so popular that it is now extinct.
Expression of Religious Love?
The origin story that really takes the cake (or chocolates if you will) by way of likelihood is that the heart shape we hold so close to our, uh, hearts exists solely because some medieval scientist or philosopher guessed wrong. Our ancient ancestors started performing autopsies as far back as 367 BC and scientific research of the human anatomy continued for a few hundred years. However, research stopped around 200 AD and didn't start again until 1091, leaving a gap of about a thousand years in our knowledge of the human body.
Sex symbol? Expression of religious love? Debunked science? When we get to the heart of it, does it really matter? Let’s just be glad that we have love to express and a universal method of expressing it. Happy Valentines Day!
Researched and written by Victoria Buckwash