We're all familiar with the heart symbol. It's a sign of love and romance.

It looks nothing at all like it's blood pumping namesake.

After doing a little digging, I found out that the origin of the heart symbol is something that is actually hotly debated. Some claim it's inspired by a set of buns (just turn it upside down to see what I mean) or other parts of the human anatomy.

What makes a little bit more sense is the idea that it started way back in ancient Greece and Rome. It's fashioned after a plant that was once used as a contraceptive...you know, birth control.

The plant was silphium, and the seed pods of this plant look an awful lot like the "Valentine's heart" we all know and love. Some scholars think that the plant's connection with love, sex, and romance is what made the seed an obvious symbol of affection.

By the way, it was also used as a pretty good cough syrup.

Unfortunately the plant went extinct in the first century A.D. Legend has it that Nero got the last of it.

In lore, the heart has always been the epicenter of emotion. In ancient medical texts it was described as having three chambers with a dip in the middle, coming to a point at the bottom.

It's highly likely that these things combined help give birth to the heart symbol that now adorns everything Valentine related. Plus, it's sexier than the real thing.

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