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The Origin of the Heart

Love fills the air all over again at this time of the year. As ladies we may find ourselves the recipients of colorful bouquets of flowers, assortments of candy, and yes, maybe even some jewelry 😉 During this season of declaration and renewed commitment one shape will always follow our journey: the Heart.

As young girls our outfits were adorned with colorful and playful hearts long before we knew what love really was. As teenagers we may have scribbled that silhouette over and over again thinking of our first crush. As women the heart continues to be the symbol we rely upon to convey our most personal feelings. Even now in the digital age we text colorful emoji hearts to our loved ones to remind them of our affections. We host Galentine’s events to share this emotion beyond our significant others, but with our closest friends and most trusted female allies. We find empowerment and comfort all in the shape we first learned to cut out of paper in elementary school by folding a sheet of paper in half while we carefully cut two perpendicular lines and two circular arcs.

So as we cup our hands together forming the shape of a heart and raise it to the sky, have we ever stopped and wondered where this shape originally came from?

There are many ideas surrounding the origin. Some believe it came from a similarity to the shape of a North African plant seed from Silphium, a plant found in the ancient city of Cyrene. The plant was so important to their economy that the heart shape could be seen on their coins.

Others claim it came to be from Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque seeing it in a vision surrounded by thorns.  Some speculate it came from the female body and anatomy with its distinct shapes and curves.

Beyond the various claims, many believe the heart shape we are familiar with simply came from failed attempts to draw an actual human heart, the organ which the likes of Aristotle, believed contained all human passions.

With no real definitive answer as to where the shape comes from, we can all agree that it’s an important shape in our modern day life and with its symmetrical and clean curves it can evoke so much emotion.

Regardless of what the actual origin may be, the symbol itself can never replace the words spoken to us from a loved one. Those colorful hearts that pop up on our phones, while appreciated, will never mean more than the value we feel we have to our partners.  So this Valentine’s season as we gaze upon shop windows and get lost in a sea of pink and red arrangements, let’s make sure that we say the actual words “I love you” to those nearest and dearest to us in our lives, and don’t let a shape do all the talking in sharing our most genuine expressions.