|The swan mating ritual--
heart shaped, lovely, and romantic,
but an unlikely source.
|Cyrene coin, 7th century BC.
|The Sacred Heart
It's likely the first broad use of the heart shape began during the 17th century when the Catholic church embraced St. Margaret Mary Alocoque's vision of the heart of Christ encircled by a crown of thorns, which resulted in the Cult of the Sacred Heart. Artists of the times readily adopted and adapted the heart shape (from whatever source), surmounted by a tiny cross, and encircled by the thorns. From that point on, given the philosophical dominance of the heart over the brain, the symbolism took hold and the valentine evolved. During the 18th century, love-struck, upper class maidens, with little else better to do, began crafting handmade artistic confections with red paper hearts and real lace to profess their love for would-be (or could-be) beaus. Though likely welcoming the ladies' affections, they probably thought their graphic design means of expressing it somewhat silly.
|Mathematicians have reduced the
heart to an algebraic equation.
|With love in mind.