It seems like hearts are everywhere lately. I have to admit, I love it, and not just for Valentine’s Day. The heart is one of the oldest and most universal icons. There’s a lot mystery surrounding the early roots of the heart symbol, but it is thought to have originated in botany, in the rare, now-extinct plant silphium. Silphium was primarily used for seasoning, but it was also used as a method of birth control. During the seventh century, the plant was such an important part of the economy of Cyrene that the city-state issued coins depicting the plant’s seedpod, which looks a lot like the heart symbol. A similar symbol was also seen on Greek, Roman and even early Christian gravestones — the ivy leaf — and was used to represent eternal love. Whichever botanical explanation gives us the heart’s origins, the symbol didn’t become universal until the Middle Ages, when it came to represent sincerity and clarity and was changed from green to red. The heart icon became so symbolic of medieval heraldry that it was synonymous with the Holy Grail. (Early playing cards actually used the Holy Grail instead of the heart symbol as an icon.) Though scholars began to understand the anatomy of the organ in the Renaissance, the heart icon was still used to symbolize eternal faithfulness and courage. I had a tough time narrowing down my heart favorites, so I put the extras on our Valentine’s Day Pinterest board. — Amy Azzarito
P.S. — PBS has a great timeline of the Heart in History.
Image above: 1. Felt Heart Pillow, $19.95 | 2. Fashion Designers A–Z, Prada Edition, $350 | 3. White Ceramic Bowl, Red Heart Design, $26 | 4. Three-Piece Heart-Shaped Cookie Cutter Set, $4.95 | 5. Heart Bowl with Wooden Ladle, $48 | 6. Je T’aime Pendant, $44 | 7. Heart Ring, $110 | 8. Ruby & Gold Heart Pendant, $350 | 9. Heart Oven Mitt, $8.95 | 10. Heart Pouf, $152.90
Image above: Love Straws, $16
See more heart finds after the jump . . .
Image above: 1. Sweatshirt with Contrast Heart Flocking, $23.40 (I actually got this one for myself!) | 2. Heart Print Ballet Flat, $132.26 | 3. Wooden Heart Cuff, $125 | 4. Pyrite Heart, $52 | 5. Kate Spade, Heart to Heart Tights, $32 | 6. Black Heart Bowl, $18 | 7. Plush Heart Pom Pom Hat, $43.85 | 8. Black Diamond Heart Stud Earrings, $195 | 9. Sweetheart Bracelet, $188 | 10. Chuck Taylor High Top, $110 | 11. Ceramic Bowl, $26
Image above: 1. Asos Double Heart Skinny Bangle, $10.52 | 2. Digitally Printed Silk Pillow, $125 | 3. Hearts iPhone Case, $16 | 4. Heart Dome Paperweight, $60 | 5. Gold Heart Bracelet, $485 | 6. Set of Eight Small Heart Plastic Food Keepers, $10.75 | 7. Unbreakable Bangle, $75 | 8. Nesting Heart Bowls, $19 | 9. Heart Measuring Cups, $10.95
Image above: 1. Heart Bowls, Set of 4, $110 | 2. Heart Padlock, $8.99 | 3. Heart Charm Bracelet, $97.28 | 4. Heart Sponges, $6.50 | 5. Button But Love Clutch, $49.99 | 6. Heart Escutcheon, $11.21 | 7. Knitted Hot Water Bottle Cover, $40 | 8. Heart Cuff, $65 | 9. Punk Love Studs, $48 | 10. Heart Birch Cuff, $108 | 11. Sterling Silver Heart Ring, $50
Image above: AG Stevie Ankle Hearts, $188