This Is Why The Heart Symbol Is Actually Associated With Love

So now you know.

Today, the shape of a heart is one of the most prevalent symbols in popular culture. We eat heart-shaped chocolates, wear t-shirts that read "I <3 NYC" and end texts to our significant others with a heart emoji.

But have you ever wondered why the heart is actually associated with love? Craig Benzine, host of Mental Floss series Big Questions, has the answer for you.


As he explains, throughout history the human heart always had a special place in our society.

Need proof? Here it goes.

Egyptians believed that the human heart was a moral compass...

... and in Ancient Greece the human heart was thought to contain one's soul.

Yep. The entire soul in your heart.

Soon enough, people started drawing connections between the human heart and love.

Or it appears so, when looking at the Medieval Art of the Western world. Sure there were illustrations of the human heart before, but this one below is quite special. It's the first known depiction of the human heart as a symbol of love, and not an anatomical object.

It originally appeared in a French manuscript titled "Roman de la poire", that  was written by an unknown poet in the 13th century. The suitor is seen kneeling on his knees, offering his heart to a lady. Yep, an ACTUAL human heart.

We can't decide if this is gross or romantic. Maybe a little bit of both.

Then, the heart takes over Christian art.

By the 15th century, the heart shape had become an important part of Christian art. With years, it evolved to look  "less realistic, but also less icky", as Benzine put it in his Big Questions series. And we could not agree more. In comparison to the one in "Roman de la poire" illustration, these indeed look more like the modern heart symbol we all know, than the actual organ.

Ta-dah! In 1530, the modern heart pops up on the Luther Seal, the symbol of Lutheranism.

As Martin Luther explained himself, "Such a heart should stand in the middle of a white rose, to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. In other words, it places the believer into a white, joyous rose, for this faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives."

Well put, Mister.

Next, the shape of the heart starts appearing on stuff like playing cards an tapestries.

OK. So it perhaps it wasn't only about religion and love at that time. Maybe a little bit of games and parties too.

Then in the 17th century in England, Valentine's day becomes a thing.

You read that right. English gentlemen and ladies started out by exchanging notes to celebrate Valentine's day, because it was "a thing." Then the symbol of the heart got really cool too. 

I all just clicked.

And so the heart shape was a keeper!

Now you know. Watch the entire video below.

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(H/T: Laughing Squid


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