Love is in the air today. Love is one of the most relatable emotions that we have all experienced and nourished it in its various forms since time immemorial. Along the way, we have developed some intriguing and interesting symbols to express this magical feeling of love.

On this Valentine’s Day, let’s explore the interesting stories of origin behind the 5 most popular symbols of romantic love.

Symbol of Heart

The heart shape is the most popular symbol of love but bears very little resemblance to its anatomical namesake. The most popular theory is that the heart shape was inspired by a very rare and now extinct plant called silphium. Inspired by the seedpod of silphium plant, the heart shape made its appearance in the silver coins from Cyrene in the 6-5th century. The plant was used as for cooking, medicine and as a contraceptive.

Others believe that the heart shaped symbol of today owes its shape to a poor drawing imitation of the original anatomical heart. Today, the heart shape is the most recognized universal symbol of love. It is said that when we develop feelings for another person, the heart misses a beat and is the first to spark the romantic feelings. With Valentine’s Day we are surrounded by an overdose of hearts in various hues and sizes. The heart is an all encompassing symbol that stands for love, unity, sensuality, joy and charity.

Symbol of Red Rose

Red rose or a bouquet of red roses have become the ultimate symbol of romantic love. The reason rose has gained such a cult status for romance and physical passion is thanks to the Greek mythology. Aphrodite, the Goddess of love created the red rose. It is believed that the red rose appeared for the first time when Aphrodite ran to where her lover, Adonis lay dying. Aphrodite pricked her feet with the thorn of a white rose and the rose turned red due to her blood. Thus, the red rose becoming symbolic of passionate love. Another myth is that the red rose grew on the ground from the tears of Aphrodite and blood of her tragic lover, Adonis, making red rose the ultimate symbol of immortal love.

Rose as a flower in various colours is symbolic of friendship, purity, gratitude, sympathy, joy and other beautiful emotions. The red rose reigns supreme as the symbol for passionate love, making it the most popular flower during Valentine’s Day.

Symbol of Cupid

Even if Cupid’s figure is not a popular symbol of love, the arrows of cupid have gained an iconic status as a symbol of romantic love. Placing an arrow in the heart is the most accepted way of expressing love. It is especially popular in the cards during Valentine’s Day. Cupid means desire in Greek. According to Roman mythology, Cupid is the son of Venus (Aphrodite in Greek mythology), the goddess of love and beauty. Cupid is a winged boy with bow and arrows who shoots the golden arrow through an individual’s heart causing them to fall in love with the first person they set their eyes on. Cupid is often portrayed as blindfolded, symbolic of the fact that love is blind.

Cupid’s arrows have come to be associated with the symbol of heart. An arrow pierced heart is the most popular symbol of romantic love.

Doves and Swans

The dove as a symbol of love has become popular thanks to the culture of romantic films. But the association of dove with love dates back to the Middle Ages, where they believed that all birds chose their mates on Valentine’s Day, which is factually not true. But doves tend to stay with the same partner during the mating season, making them symbolic of monogamy. The loyalty factor is what makes them a very popular symbol for love relationships. The dove was also considered to be a favourite bird of Aphrodite/ Venus.

The swans are popular for their pictorial representation of the heart. When two swans sit opposite each other with their beaks touching, their neck forms the shape of the heart, the most beloved symbol of love.


Today, XOXO is an accepted and very popular expression of love. XOXO means hugs and kisses. We have all used XOXO on a greeting card or typed it up in our everyday communications as a familiar sign-off. The letter X represents kiss, where two people come together to kiss or the pucker of the lips. The letter O represents hugs, like two people hugging from above or making a circle through arms coming together. The letter X can be traced back to the letters written in the Middle Ages while the O became more popular during the 1960s.

Other popular contemporary symbols of love include 143, < 3 and the love emojis. During World War I, the sailors used to sign their love letters with the acronym SWAK (sealed With A Kiss).

Today, more than ever we are surrounded by the most technologically enhanced symbols of love but they will never match up to the timeless symbols of love sprinkled with rich legacy.

Here’s wishing that you all get to savour love in its most vibrant forms on this special day.

Happy Valentine’s Day < 3