It seems like hearts are everywhere lately. I have to admit, I love it, and not just for Valentine’s Day. The heart is one of the oldest and most universal icons. There’s a lot mystery surrounding the early roots of the heart symbol, but it is thought to have originated in botany, in the rare, now-extinct plant silphium. Silphium was primarily used for seasoning, but it was also used as a method of birth control. During the seventh century, the plant was such an important part of the economy of Cyrene that the city-state issued coins depicting the plant’s seedpod, which looks a lot like the heart symbol. A similar symbol was also seen on Greek, Roman and even early Christian gravestones — the ivy leaf — and was used to represent eternal love. Whichever botanical explanation gives us the heart’s origins, the symbol didn’t become universal until the Middle Ages, when it came to represent sincerity and clarity and was changed from green to red. The heart icon became so symbolic of medieval heraldry that it was synonymous with the Holy Grail. (Early playing cards actually used the Holy Grail instead of the heart symbol as an icon.) Though scholars began to understand the anatomy of the organ in the Renaissance, the heart icon was still used to symbolize eternal faithfulness and courage. I had a tough time narrowing down my heart favorites, so I put the extras on our Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.