Feel the LOVE | The symbols of Valentine’s Day




Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days, when our children were small we celebrated with a special family dinner, hand drawn Valentine cards, a beautiful floral centerpiece, and a special table set with our finest porcelain and silver. Our girls were encouraged to share something they loved about all of us around our table after the meal. One year our youngest had to think long and hard about what she loved about her sister {they had a fierce “discussion” about a doll just an hour before dinner!} but she finally came up with “I like her because she has nice hair!” and gave her the tiniest scrap of paper with a crossed out heart drawn on it.



Sterlingheart2 Sterling Heart Bonbonierres



Why is February 14th the day we celebrate romance? Legends about St. Valentine differ slightly, some say he was a Roman priest in the third century who defied the emperor by marrying soldiers to their sweethearts, others believe he helped Christians escape the lion’s dens. While he was in jail before his ultimate death, he fell in love with the daughter of the jailer, and sent her a love note…the very first “Valentine.”



There are plenty of choices for romantic gifts for someone you love. The classics are flowers, hearts {chocolate filled or otherwise} and jewelry. Who doesn’t love all of those? Each one of these has an exciting history, and antique lovers can find exceptional tokens of affection for each one of these symbols in our shop.






Hearts:  The classic emblematic symbol of Valentine’s Day.  The heart was considered the symbol of love long ago, the source of all human emotions. Giving someone a heart signified the selfless act of giving everything you had.  Some believe the heart symbol originated when early scholars drew a picture of the heart, sight unseen. It’s not clear when, exactly, the heart became the symbol of love, but as early as the Middle Ages hearts were found in paintings and manuscripts to show emotion.


A French manuscript dating to 1250 showed kneeling lover offering a somewhat roughly shaped heart to his beloved maiden. St. Valentine was believed to cut heart shapes from paper and give these out as a symbol of God’s love.



madonnapipeclay3Religious Antiques



In Christian art,  the Sacred Heart portrays Christ’s physical heart as the representation of His divine love for humanity. Often Mary is portrayed with the Immaculate Heart, she is the mother of sorrows, and regarded as a symbol of deepest compassion.



During the Victorian era, the heart shape truly became associated with romantic love. Beautiful and ornate Valentine Cards were sold, they were quite costly, and sent to ladies by their suitors, but also to friends and family members. Heart shaped jewelry became quite the rage during those days, with a single heart called a Witch’s Heart {because you were “bewitched” by the person you gifted it to!} given to sweethearts and double entwined hearts given to wives as a symbol of marriage.



AntiqueLocketCrossAntique Maltese Cross Heart Locket



Flowers: Giving your loved ones flowers has a long history, no doubt the beauty of flowers made them a natural to gift. Remnants of flowers have been found in excavations all over the world, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians all gave flowers to express their emotions. The Language of Flowers allowed suitors to send “secret messages” with floral bouquets.  Introduced in the 18th century by Charles II of Sweden, each flower had a specific meaning attached to it.



ParianPuttiJardiniereAntique Parian Jardiniere



The Victorians delighted in this custom, guideline books about the secret meanings of flowers were quite popular in an age when openly speaking about your feelings was frowned upon in polite society.  The custom of giving flowers to a loved one is still the most popular and cherished way to show someone you love them.



antiqueVictorianMemorialPinFrenchgardenHouse1Victorian Fern Memorial Pin





Jewelry: As long ago as prehistoric times, men and women have fashioned ornamentation to adorn themselves with. Jewelry is not only precious, it’s a way to proclaim our individual style. Egyptians of rank were buried wearing rings on the third finger of their left hand because they believed it connected to their heart through the vena amoris “the vein of love” {it’s why we wear engagement rings on that finger.}


Victorian jewelry was completely sentimental, with brooches and lockets fitted with open backs to tuck a lock of a loved one’s hair or snippet of a love letter inside to worn close to the heart.



RoseSwivelLocketFghAntique Swivel Locket



No matter what you give, or receive, on Valentine’s Day as a gift, I hope the best gift is spending it with someone you love. I am excited to say that this year our children and grandchildren will all be home {at least for breakfast!} and we plan on having a lovely time exchanging words of love. Here’s hoping after all these years our youngest has found much to love and share about her older sister when the time comes!


You can shop our selection of Antique Decorative Objects, Silver, and Jewelry to choose an exceptional addition to your heart, flower or jewelry collection!

3 thoughts on “Feel the LOVE | The symbols of Valentine’s Day”

  1. What a wonderful post! I learned so much about the history of our Valentines Day traditions. Enjoy your family breakfast together. That was an endearing story about your daughters to share. I love that tradition!

    1. Thank you Johanne, I hope that you have a sweet Valentine’s Day too!

  2. Such a wonderful post about Valentine’s Day and why we celebrate it Lidy. I learned a lot while reading it. I’m so glad that the Victorians made such a to-do over it because I love the beautiful cards that were created during that time. The photos of all the amazing hearts in your world are stunning!!!

    I love the story of your daughter and her reluctance to ‘share the love’—-so darling!

    sending hugs…

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