The heart was considered in ancient times to be the source of all emotions. It later became to be associated only with the emotion of love. It is not clear when the valentine heart shape became the symbol for the heart. Some scholars speculate that the heart symbol, as we use it to signify romance or love, came from early attempts by people to draw an organ they’d never seen.
The rose, which is undoubtedly the most popular flower in the world, speaks of love and has been the choice of lovers in every century. If you rearrange the letters of the word rose you get Eros, the god of love.
Red Rose
The red rose was said to be the favourite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Also, red is a colour that signifies strong feeling. Add red for Chinese.
Cupid was one of the gods of mythology. In Latin, the word Cupid means desire. Cupid is typically represented as a chubby, naked, winged boy or youth with a mischievous smile. He possessed a bow with a quiver of arrows by which he transfixed the hearts of youths and maidens. Cherubs are descendants of Cupid. They are depicted as loveable little winged creatures without arrows or quivers. Cherubs were typically not as mischievous as Cupid.
A lady’s hand was a favourite decoration that represented “femininity”. Its beauty was enhanced by adding a frilly cuff and a jewelled ring on the third finger. Clasped hands represent those of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and were symbols of the friendship between their countries (Germany and UK).
Turtle Doves and Love Birds
“Oft have I heard both youth and virgin say Birds choose their mates, and couples too, this day; But by their flight I never can divine, When I shall couple with my Valentine”. Herrick
It was thought that birds choose their mate for the year on February 14. Doves and pigeons mate for life and therefore were used as a symbol of “fidelity.”
Where birds are concerned, some further explanation is also often given:
Lovebirds are colourful birds found in Africa, so named because they sit closely together in pairs – like sweethearts do. Doves are symbols of loyalty and love, because they mate for life and share the care of their babies.
Ribbons, Lace and Frills
Ribbons and frills have been associated with romance since the days of knighthood when a knight rode into battle with a ribbon or scarf given him by his lady fair. The dictionary states that the word “Lace” comes from a Latin word meaning to “snare” or “noose”. Others see lace a little differently. Lace has long been used to make women’s handkerchiefs. Hundreds of years ago, if a woman dropped her handkerchief, a man might pick it up for her. Sometimes, if she had her eye on the right man, a woman might intentionally drop her handkerchief to encourage him. So, people began to think of romance when they thought of lace.
Love Knots
These have series of winding and interlacing loops with no beginning and no end. A symbol of everlasting love, love knots made from ribbon or drawn on paper.
Puzzik – circa 1840
A puzzik is a quaint sort of home made valentine which was a sort of puzzle that the receiver had to solve. Not only did she have to decipher the message but also to figure how to refold the paper once it was opened. The order of the verses was usually numbered and the recipient had to twist the folds to determine what was being said.
Daguerreo type – popular from 1840 to the Civil War
An old-time tintype was placed in the centre of a card surrounded by an ornamented wreath. Another type was a “Mirror Valentine” which had a small mirror placed in the centre to reflect the happy face of the receiver.
Although it had many forms, a rebus was usually a romantic verse written in ink with certain words omitted and replaced by a picture. Supposed to be a riddle, they were not always easy to decipher.
Watch Papers
Popular when men carried pocket watches, these were made to fit the back or front of a pocket watch.
The “X”
The “X” sign is often used to represent a kiss? This tradition started with the medieval practice of allowing those who could not write to sign documents with an “X”. This was done before witnesses, and the signer placed a kiss upon the “X” to show sincerity. This is how the kiss came to be synonymous with the letter “X” and how the “X” came to be commonly used at the end of letters as kiss symbols. (Some believed “X” was chosen as a variation on the cross symbol, while others believe it might have been a pledge in the name of Christ, since the “X” – or Chi symbol – is the second letter of the Greek alphabet and has been used in church history to represent Christ.)
Offering ivy means “Without you I die”. You are like the most precious water to me, and also my vertebral column. “Without you, I am nothing”.