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The Heart Symbol: How Love Found Its Icon

The Heart Symbol: How Love Found Its Icon

Our Heart Felt Items

When it comes to representing love and affection, there is one symbol that stands out above all others: the heart. This simple, yet powerful symbol has become synonymous with matters of the heart, from love and romance to compassion and caring. But how did the modern heart symbol come to represent love? To answer that question, we need to take a journey through history, art, and culture to uncover the fascinating origins of this iconic symbol.

Ancient Roots

The use of the heart shape to convey love and emotion can be traced back to ancient civilizations. In fact, the heart symbol bears little resemblance to the anatomical heart it is named after. The origin of the heart shape as we know it today can be attributed to the silphium plant, which was used as a form of birth control in ancient Greece and Rome. The seedpod of the silphium plant had a unique, heart-shaped appearance and was associated with reproduction and sexuality.

Medieval Influence

During the Middle Ages, the heart symbol began to take on new meanings. It was during this time that the heart became associated with the concept of courtly love—a chivalrous and romantic form of love that was often idealized in literature and art. Knights and troubadours would exchange love tokens in the shape of hearts with their beloveds, and the heart symbol became a symbol of devotion and affection.

Religious Symbolism

The heart symbol also has deep ties to religious iconography. In Christian art, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, depicted as a flaming heart surrounded by thorns, represents Christ's love and compassion for humanity. This religious symbol helped solidify the association between the heart shape and divine love.

The Heart in Art and Literature

Throughout history, the heart symbol has been a recurring motif in art and literature. It has appeared in love letters, poetry, and works of fiction as a visual representation of love and desire. Artists like Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci incorporated heart shapes into their paintings and drawings, further cementing the heart's status as a symbol of love.

The Heart in Pop Culture

In the 20th century, the heart symbol became a ubiquitous part of popular culture. It appeared on Valentine's Day cards, in advertising, and on a wide range of consumer products associated with love and romance. The heart symbol's simple and recognizable shape made it a powerful tool for conveying messages of love and affection.


Today, the heart symbol is universally recognized as a symbol of love and emotion. Its origins may be rooted in ancient history and diverse cultural influences, but it has evolved into a timeless icon that transcends borders and languages. Whether it's used to express romantic love, affection for family and friends, or compassion for those in need, the heart symbol continues to play a central role in our expressions of love and caring.

As we exchange heart-shaped cards and gifts with loved ones, it's worth remembering the rich history and symbolism behind this enduring symbol of the human heart's deepest emotions. The heart symbol truly encapsulates the essence of love, making it one of the most cherished and enduring symbols in human history.