As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, we start to be surrounded by hearts everywhere. But where exactly does the symbol come from, since – obviously – it does not match the shape of our biological heart? Let’s dive into a quick history of the…
Heart-shaped peepal leaves were used in artistic depictions of the Indus Valley Civilisation: a heart pendant originated from there has been discovered and is now exhibited in the Delhi national museum.
In the 6th-5th century BC, the heart shape was used to represent the heart-shaped fruit of the plant Silphium, a (probably) extinct plant known to classical antiquity and used as a condiment and medicine. Silver coins from Cyrene of the 6–5th BC bear a similar design, sometimes accompanied by a Silphium plant and is understood to represent its seed or fruit.
With possible early examples or direct predecessors in the 13th to 14th century, the familiar symbol of the heart representing love developed in the 15th century, and became popular in Europe during the 16th.
Since the 19th century, the symbol has often been used on Valentine’s Day cards, candy boxes, and similar popular culture artifacts as a symbol of romantic love.
The use of the heart symbol as a logograph for the English verb “to love” derives from the use in “I ♥ NY,” introduced in 1977.
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