Updated: August 18, 2019
For as long as just about anyone can remember, the heart has long been seen as the sign of true love and friendship – whether it’s going back to things like Valentine’s Day or going beyond that, you’ll find that men and women from across the world will celebrate their love for things with the love heart symbol. Even today when you look around, people express their love with gifts of heart jewelry, heart shaped chocolates on Valentines day, heart urns are popular as a way of commemorating those who have passed on that we had a deep and lasting love for. Even heart shaped emojis are used to let someone know you love them.
But what does this all mean? Why is the heart the shape of our affections and love for other people?
The history behind this goes beyond most generations, so far back indeed that nobody can tell you a specific starting date. What is known is that the main theories put it at some point in the 7th century, BC. The came from the fact that a state-city known as Cyrene was using a heart-shaped plant known as the silphium plant as a form of birth control.
Eventually, this became such an important part of the local community that small coins were made to commemorate this fact – they took on the shape of a heart, just like the plant.
However, this is not the only contending theory as to why things like heart shapes and heart urns exist today.
A wide range of objects on this planet take on the shape of a heart, including many theories that put the creation of these heart symbols to do with the shape of certain leaves. Leaves have always been used in painting and in art across the Middle Ages until today, and this has illustrated an incredible, romantic love between both man and woman – the leaf has always had a strong spiritual context as much as anything else.
Other civilizations that were prominent in shaping the world of their time, such as Ancient Egypt, held a strong reverence for the heart shape and believed that the heart was the epitome of morality. The Greeks believed that it stood for thoughts and emotions. The range of ideas and theories as to why this occurred is a long and complex process, and tends to be something that most people do not understand – it’s believed that the heart and its connection with love comes from the fact that our heart will skip a beat, or start racing, depending on how we feel about our emotions.
Our love for others is one of the strongest emotional drivers that we have, so it makes perfect sense that this continues to change and to fit with the way that most of us look at what the hart achieves. Whilst we may never know its true origins, it’s safe to say that the heart will always retain this incredible importance within symbols and society.