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I ❤ U, Part One: The Heart Symbol

It's that time of the year when hearts can be seen everywhere. But where does our long-standing love affair with the ubiquitous heart-shaped symbol come from? Everyone recognises it. Victorians decorated it with lace and roses on their sentimental Valentine’s Day cards – tattoo artists stab it with daggers and circle it in barbed wire. In March 2011, it made history as it took its place in the Oxford English Dictionary – the first graphical symbol signifying a word to do so.

The heart has been associated with love since time immemorial. Aristotle deemed the brain to be of secondary importance to the heart, which he said was the seat of the sensitive soul and the source of nervous action. It certainly makes sense to link the heart with emotion. When we experience a powerful emotion - like a rush of love! - adrenaline pours into the blood, increases the blood pressure and accelerates the heart. Which seems to pound with love ….

Aching heart, breaking heart – cold heart, true heart, brave heart, trembling heart...lover’s heart.

Photo credit: Jodie Miller Photography

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