Since ancient times, civilizations have gravitated toward using certain symbols to express their emotions and ideals. From cave paintings that told stories to images on talismans designed to attract good health, symbols have always been a part of our lives. Since expressing ourselves through symbols is human nature, it’s no surprise that symbols for love, the most pure and sought after emotion, have existed since ancient days.

Human design over the ages has created many beautiful images representing love. A few have even resonated with people so much that they have stuck around for centuries. We’ve put together a list of the five most popular symbols of love. Check out our list below to see the most popular symbols of love and learn a little more about their meaning and how to express it this Valentine’s Day. 

HEART

The heart is the first symbol that comes to mind for most people when thinking of love. The heart shape first came to represent love around the 14th century. The heart has always been associated with love, due to the “pitter patter” feeling one gets in their heart when they are in love, but no one really knows how this exact shape started to represent the heart. However it came to be, the heart is now the most popular way to represent love today. 

ROSES

Roses first became tied to love in ancient Greek and Roman times, when they were associated with the goddesses Aphrodite and Venus (the goddesses of love in each culture). Today, they are ever popular as a symbol of love and devotion and are often given as a romantic gift to express this feeling. Red and pink roses are more closely tied to love than any other shade, as those colors represent passion and romance. 

DOVES

Doves are a symbol of both peace and love. Doves are another symbol that became closely associated with love because they were tied to the goddess Aphrodite (and her Roman equivalent Venus). Their pure white color is said to represent the purity of love. Some say that spotting a dove should always be a reminder to nurture your relationship. 

THE CLADDAGH

The Claddagh is a popular Irish symbol that has several meanings. At the center of the symbol lies a heart, representing love. The hands holding the heart up represent friendship, the strong foundation for true love. The crown topping the heart represents loyalty. There are many legends about the origin of this design, the most popular being one about silversmith Richard Joyce’s dramatic escape from being kidnapped and forced into slavery. Joyce is said to have designed a ring with the symbol for his true love and presented it to her after he returned from his harrowing adventure. 

THE CIRCLE

Circles are popular in expressing love because they represent eternity. Pure, true love is forever and the never-ending circle is a visual representation of this. Circles are also a symbol of something that is whole and true, making it a perfect way to represent love. 

The circle’s symbolic meaning is one of the reasons wedding bands and engagement rings gained, and have always maintained, their popularity. The exchanging of rings to symbolize never-ending love and commitment has stood the test of time. Many engagement rings have additional symbols of love on them, such as rings with heart-shaped center stones and three stone engagement rings, which symbolize the past, present, and future of a marital bond. No matter the variation, the circular shape of engagement and wedding rings has become the ultimate representation of love and commitment.