Flowers, cards, jewelry, and dinner out are standard romantic gifts, but nothing says Valentine’s Day like assorted chocolates in a heart-shaped box. But why? Chocolates are appreciated by the receiver, but other treats would be, too. And how did a heart-shaped box become standard? Why do we even associate love with a shape that doesn’t much resemble the heart, anyway?
This has not always been the case. Eric Jager, the author of The Book of the Heart and a medieval literature professor at UCLA, traces the link back to the 13th and 14th centuries. “[People at that time] thought of our hearts” — the physical ones — “as books of memory, a place where God’s commands are written, and [believed] feelings for the beloved were somehow written on your heart,” he told Time. There are stories about female saints, whose hearts, cut open after death, were literally inscribed with professions of love for God.
But then where did the shape come from? It’s not, one might note, quite similar to what human hearts look like, although, as cardiologist and medical illustrator Carlos Machado told Time, it isn’t all that different either. Really, he says, the shape is closer to a bird or reptile heart, which makes sense, given that the medieval study of anatomy was based on animal bodies rather than human ones.
The story of the heart-shaped box of chocolates requires a separate history for the heart, the chocolates, the box, and Valentines day itself. These varying stories intersected in the mid-1800s, in a tale you can read at Vox. -via Digg
(Image credit: Chrys Omori)