This simple holiday is usually associated with hearts and flowers. So, today, I will tell you a little about the heart symbol. Have you ever asked yourself how the heart shape came to represent love? I did, and here's what I found out. It's pretty interesting stuff.
The heart shape symbol that we're so familiar with was first used as a metaphor for love and can be traced back to the Middle Ages. The earliest known depiction of this iconic image dates back to mid-13th century manuscript. In this image, the heart resembles a pine cone held upside down. The convention of showing the heart with the pointed end up, switches in the late 14th century and, by the early 15th century, has pretty much disappeared altogether.
The "scalloped" heart of today does date back to the 14th century and was, at first, only slightly indented. The more pronounced indentation, along with the symbol shown point-side down, gained favor about the same time...late 1300's. A more modern image of the heart has been used on playing cards since the late 1400's.
Hearts have been used in religious depictions and the first evidence of once can be seen in a mosaic found in Instanbul, dating back to 1239! It is thought that the heart symbol reached Japan as early as 1543.
Today's modern-day heart has been widely used as a symbol of Valentines's Day since the 19th century and has come to represent romantic love. More recently, since the 1990's, the heart symbol has also come to represent health. You'll often see it on restaurant menus as a short-hand symbol for heart-healthy options. In the 1990's as well, the heart symbol has been used in video games to represent health and/or lives.
What I found most interesting of all is that even before the heart symbol was used to represent the heart and love, it was used to represent foliage in antiguity art forms; the fig leaf, for instanstance, as well as leaves of ivy, and the water lily. I knew I liked hearts for a reason!
Tomorrow, I'll be back to tell you more about Valentine's Day and the kiss.