History of the Heart

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Q: What’s the history of the heart shape? How did it become associated with the human organ and a symbol of love?
A: Unfortunately, no simple answer. But, I made a drawing for you…

Valentine's Day 2013

Here are some of the explanations, speculations & historic representations:
      • Silphium seeds used as a contraceptive in North Africa, now extinct for over two millennia.
      • Playing cards in the Renaissance.
      • Botched attempts at anatomical drawings influenced by the church’s opposition to autopsies.
      • Saint Valentine, a Roman priest during the 3rd century, was supposedly executed on this day and associated with a tradition of courtly love in the High Middle Ages. Little information is otherwise known, lots of myths.
      • Doily valentines gained popularity in 17th century England, started simple and the Victorians took it to the next level.
Wishing you much love and a heart full of joy today.


Emma Bailey is an artist and associate film producer in San Francisco, where she works on documentaries and new media projects at Citizen Film. Since Valentine's Day 2008, Emma has variously delighted and dismayed friends and relatives with her holiday photo email series. Emma's 2013 Valentine launched the series into the KtBlog-o-Sphere.