MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The popular symbol for the heart looks nothing like an actual human heart. Of all the flowers in the world, why does a rose symbolize love? And why do we celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14?
• Why is the rose the flower of love?
Bachman’s flower shops in the Twin Cities will go through 150,000 roses for Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to not associate the rose with this day, according to Bachman’s co-owner, Dale Bachman.
“And it has been for all of time,” Bachman said.
DNA testing has led researchers to believe roses have been around for 5,000 years.
“Dating back to the ancient Greeks,” he said.
From the time of Solomon, the primary flower linked to love and romance was the rose. It served as a love token long before Valentine’s Day ever existed.
Many date the rose’s importance to love to the Greek goddess of joy, Aphrodite. Stories of roses are woven into her tale. She reportedly gave one to her son, Eros, the God of love.
Funny that a flower with thorns would be associated with love.
“It’s protected against animals, people, it makes it a little harder to get maybe,” Bachman said, much like true love.
• Why doesn’t the heart symbol look anything like a heart?
We all know the heart symbol; chocolates, cards, balloons are all shaped with that pointy bottom and rounded top.
Of course, it looks nothing like the four-chambered, fist-sized organ that pumps blood throughout our bodies.
Some historians trace the development of the heart symbol to the 7th Century, B.C. and the North African nation of Cyrene. In Cyrene, they had a lucrative trade of a rare, now-extinct plant: silphium.
They believed that silphium worked as a form of birth control.
The trade was so successful, Cyrene minted coins, with the shape of the seedpod of the plant – and that shape was identical to our current icon of the heart.
It’s understandable how that shape (associated with birth control, sex, and love) became associated with the heart.
Other researchers point to Aristotle, who thought the human heart had three chambers with a rounded bottom and pointy top. It’s possible artists in the Middle Ages took that description and started to copy it.
• Why do we celebrate Valentine’s day on Feb. 14?
In the 5th century, the Pope (Gelasius) declared it so – to honor three Valentines who had been sainted. But love didn’t become part of the day until 1382.
The English poet Chaucer wrote that Valentine’s Day was “when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”