Origins of the heart icon as a symbol of romance

On Valentine’s day, and many other days, we send our special someone the heart shaped icon meaning “I love you”. Nowadays, a social media message that everyone can see, not the romantic letter sent and read privately. Have you ever wondered where this heart shape originated from? 

Using heart symbols romantically

The strongest theory is that this shape originates from a valuable ancient plant (now extinct) called the silphium. It was a species of fennel that grew in the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans and was used as flavouring to food and used as a form of birth control. 

Silphium seed
Ancient greek lovers
Women wanting contraception used to drink juice made from silphium once a month

A seed from this plant resembles the modern heart shape. It has also been noticed that the shape resembles a woman’s buttocks or breasts so the origin could also come from this!

Ancient coins showed the image of the silphium seed.

Happy Valentine’s everyone! Hope you enjoy my Valentine’s illustrations.