It’s not difficult to guess that Valentines day is just round the corner. Media outlets, shops and websites are full of Love Heart Strewn Images. Whilst musing over our own collection of beautiful love hearts I began to wonder where the symbol had come from?
"A Love Heart is the beginning of all knowledge" – Thomas Carlyle
I discovered that the symbol may have come from the seed pod of the Silphium Plant.
It once grew on the North African Coast, near the Greek Colony of Cyrene. The Greeks and the Romans used the plant for many things but most notably as a form of contraception. It is perhaps the plants association with both love and sex that helped to popularise the heart-shaped symbol of the plant's seed pod. The ancient city of Cyrene grew rich from trading the Silphium Plant and it showed it’s loyalty to the plant by using the Love Heart shape as a symbol on their coinage.
More modern thinkers suggest that the Love Heart shape represents the sexuality of the female body. Its form represents the female buttocks, pubic mound and spread vulva. I guess this ties into the ancient thinking to but binding them both is the idea of love, passion and intimacy. In fact everything you need for a good Valentines Day!
Whatever your thinking it can not be argued that the heart symbol is now an accepted and popular feature of modern culture. To be given any heart is a compliment, be it made of chocolate, gold, silver or even just paper.
I hope you all enjoy this 14th of February, whether you are giving or receiving a heart.