Although it is still months away from Valentine’s Day, heart-shaped logos abound everywhere — from Milton Glaser’s “I Love New York” logo (which has been widely used since the late 1970s) to the more recent “Heart Grenade” logo used by Greenday.
But how exactly did the famous symbol come about? How did it become a worldwide expression of love and affection? This article looks at the different theories and historical accounts related to the iconic shape of the heart.
Some people suggest that the heart symbol is based on the shape of an arrowhead, more specifically, an arrow that is shot by the Roman god of love, Cupid. Everyone is familiar with the little, winged fella: he roams around the Earth looking for people to “shoot” his arrows into and make them fall madly in love. To do this, he aims for, well — the heart, of course! Early artists would draw the “pointy” arrowhead into a more rounded and friendly shape, thus resulting into the heart symbol that we know today.
Symbol of Romance
Aside from the arrowhead theory, there are other popular theories about how the heart shape came to be. Some people suggest that it resembles two people’s faces coming together for an intimate kiss. Others explained that it actually represents a couple of swans kissing, and swans are the perfect symbols of love in the animal kingdom because they mate for life. Interestingly, barn owls, gibbons, penguins, and turtle doves are other examples of animals that are monogamous.
From Your Valentine
There are many different stories about Valentinus, one of the early Christian saints. One popular account is that he was imprisoned and punished for officiating marriage ceremonies between soldiers and their girlfriends. Back then, soldiers were not allowed to marry because of the belief that this would make them stronger fighters.
Another popular story about Saint Valentine involved Julia, a young blind girl whom he had befriended before he was imprisoned. Just before he was executed, Valentine wrote her a letter and signed it with, “From Your Valentine.” Accounts say that Julia’s blindness was miraculously healed so that she could read his letter personally. Over the centuries, the legend of Saint Valentine and his famous line became the staple of romantic greeting cards all over the world, alongside Cupid, love birds, and the iconic heart symbol.
Without a doubt, the heart symbol has come a long way. In 2011, it became the first graphic symbol to enter the globally recognized Oxford English Dictionary — proof that when it comes to love — nothing expresses the message better than the “”♥.””