Beyond the Heart – 5 (Other) Symbols of Love

girl in blue blowing red paper hearts, Valentine's Day symbols Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. Do you have your chocolates and/or flowers and/or jewelry ready? Giving roses and heart-shaped everything has always been a popular way to show affection for your significant other. But if you’d like to switch it up this year, consider surprising your better half with one of these lesser-known symbols of love.

Apples

While we tend to equate the image of an apple with teachers or even doctors, apples have been a representation of love since ancient times. The story of Adam and Eve doesn’t actually specify that the forbidden fruit was an apple, but most artists have depicted it as such—and so its connection with seduction and passion has stuck. Paintings and sculptures of Venus, the goddess of love, often show her holding an apple. And because apples keep for a very long time if maintained in the right conditions, the Celts consider the fruit a symbol of enduring love. 

Welsh wooden love spoon, hearts, locks, carvedA love spoon

Famously a part of Welsh tradition, the love spoon probably originated in Germany in the 1600s. These wooden spoons—intricately engraved with meaningful symbols such as hearts, crosses, luck charms, and more—can still be found today in Wales and several Scandinavian countries. The purpose of a love spoon was (and is) to demonstrate romantic intent, sort of like a promise ring. For centuries, men who hope to marry have presented love spoons to their brides-to-be, wowing them with their dedication and craftsmanship.

Scallop shell

According to Roman mythology, Venus was born from sea foam. Perhaps the most famous painting of Venus depicts her standing atop a massive scallop shell in Sandro Botticelli’s La Nascita di Venere (The Birth of Venus). This, along with other works of art associating Venus with a shell, have cemented this icon as a representation of love. As the shell encircles and protects, so does love.

A lock of hair

Human hair has long been symbolic of love and power. In the Bible, Delilah seduces Samson and saps his strength by cutting off his hair. During the Victorian era, the best way to show your love for someone was to give them some of your hair to be kept in a locket or woven into other types of jewelry. By willingly parting with your tresses, you give a piece of yourself (and your strength) to the one that holds your heart.

Celtic Love KnotCeltic knot

Scottish, Welsh, and Irish Celts have a rich history of creating complex, winding knots to decorate and represent everlasting values. Lovers continue to exchange jewelry and artwork with one of many versions of a Celtic love knot. The designs have no beginning and no end, a beautiful testament to the enduring nature of true love.

 

 

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