Let’s face it; we’ve all drawn about 238845 hearts on our notebooks before. Whether they professed your love for your favorite boyband member (duh, of course it was Justin Timberlake) or the guy from your chemistry class, there was just something so fun about showing your love off to the world in the form of glitter pens and badly drawn love hearts. Yet, as you’ve got older and obsessively watched Grey’s Anatomy and CSI, you might have realized that drawn hearts look nothing like the tickers we have in our own bodies.
The heart has a long history
While we know that our real hearts have a long history, you might not realize that the drawn heart does as well. In fact, research suggests that images similar to the heart symbol have been found on pottery that dates back to around 3000 BCE. However, the guys who lived way back when weren’t drawing these hearts to show their love to each other – because this symbol did not have any reference to love in the first place. It’s believed that this symbol originally came about as a simplification of an ivy or fig leaf. Both of these leaves have significant meanings within different cultures.
The leaves have their own meaning
Throughout history and time periods, the ivy and the fig leaves have had their very own meanings. During the Greek era, the vine leaf represented the famous god of the grape harvest, wine, fertility, ecstasy and more. During the 4th century in Greece, the ivy leaf was also used to represent a house of women (if you catch our drift). Similarly, Buddhists have their own representations of these leaves – and the fig came to represent enlightenment.
Stemming from control
However, there are many other hypotheses as to why the drawn heart looks nothing like a real heart – and sadly we will never know the true meaning. Yet, one of the more common ideas is that this symbol stems from control… birth control, to be exact! Many believe that this symbol helms from the African state of Cyrene, which rose to fame in the early ages for trading silphium, a plant which is not completely extinct. Although this plant was used as a seasoning within their dishes, this plant was more commonly used as birth control. While still in seed form, this silphium looked like the common heart we know today. These seeds were so vital to the economy of Cyrenem, they were represented on coins from the region as early as the 6th century BCE.
A religious origin
Well, the theories aren’t over just yet. According to the Catholic Church, they are to thank for the modern drawn heart we know and love today (all puns were intended). According to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, she had a vision where the apparent ‘Sacred Heart of Jesus’ appeared in front of her in the shape of the modern-day heart. However, her reports don’t quite match up, as Saint Margaret had this vision in the 1600s when the symbol had already made an impact on the world.
We all know that the modern-day drawn heart looks nothing like a real heart, but it seems we’re not much closer to finding out the real reason why these two do not look alike.