In today’s post, we will be talking about a very lovely topic, quite literally that is. Here is our complete list of symbols of love around the world and their origin stories along with a gallery of beautiful images depicting them.
Ancient Symbols of Love
The maple leaf is one of the most well-known ancient love symbols. It originated in China and Japan where it represented the beauty with which true love manifests in your everyday life.
The symbol was later brought to North America by the settlers. It became associated with love and fertility (among many other things), with one particular reason believed to be the stork (bird) using maple branches to build her nest. It is the same bird that most of us, as children, believed to bring babies into the world.
On a side note, North American settlers also used the maple leaf to arouse sexual pleasure.
Seashells have long been considered symbols of love across many cultures. Ancient Greece and Rome are among those.
In both of these cultures, seashells were associated with the goddesses of love and fertility, Aphrodite and Venus, respectively.
According to the Greek and Roman mythologies, these goddesses emerged from the sea foam and were carried ashore by a scallop shell.
This is why most of their depictions in art feature them emerging from seashells. Ancient Romans also considered the shell a symbol of regeneration.
While ancient Greeks and Romans associated the scallop shell with love, Hindus revered the conch shell and associated spiritual meanings. They believed that conch shells had the power to awaken and call out the hearts filled with faith and love.
Many Native American tribes also used seashells to denote love and fertility.
Celtic Symbols of Love
The love knot, also called the Celtic love knot or true love knot is a love symbol that has transcended time. It has been around from the time of ancient Celts and is also a part of modern-day Irish tradition.
The symbol is believed to have originated from the Celtic culture. However, over time, it made its way into various cultures across the world. As a result, several different forms of love knots now exist.
Some represent the love knot by two ropes tied together with two opposite knots, while others create it by two ropes tied together so that they appear as one, with no beginning or end.
Another popular way of representing the Celtic love knot is via two interlocking hearts. The love knot symbolizes the interlinking or union of two people, hearts, or souls in all variations.
According to historical narratives, Celts exchanged love knots the same way people exchange rings in the modern-day world.
The love knot has also been manifested in various ways in marriage traditions across various cultures and is believed to be the concept behind the common phrase that we use to denote marriage, i.e. tying the knot.
Featuring two hands clasping a heart, mounted by a crown, the Claddagh ring is an ancient Irish symbol that denotes the three things behind a strong and successful relationship – friendship, love, and loyalty.
There are multiple stories about the origin of the Claddagh ring design. The most popular one associates the creation of this design to Richard Joyce, a 17th-century goldsmith from Galway county in western Ireland.
According to folklore, Joyce was taken to Africa as a slave, where a goldsmith bought him. There, as he learned the work from his master, Joyce made the first Claddagh ring for the girl he loved back home.
Years later, when he finally was able to go back to his hometown, Joyce found out that the girl, Colleen, waited for him all those years and didn’t marry anyone else and he gifted the ring to her. It has been considered a sign of friendship, eternal love, and loyalty ever since.
Egyptian Symbols of Love
Often mistaken for a Christian cross, the Ankh is one of the most revered ancient Egyptian symbols with multiple meanings attached to it. Featuring a cross with a loop on the top, the Ankh is used to represent life, immortality, love, and fertility.
Some also consider that the symbol denotes the brief reunion of the Egyptian god Osiris and his wife, goddess Isis after Osiris was killed by his brother Seth. As a love symbol, the Ankh is also believed to represent the union of opposites, such as man and woman and heaven and earth.
The symbol is commonly featured on Egyptian tombs, temple walls, and artwork throughout history. Egyptian Pharaohs and deities are also commonly depicted with the Ankh in hand.
Menat is a necklace associated with Hathor – the Egyptian goddess of sky, love, beauty, and fertility. She was also a patron of motherhood, music, and joy. It features multiple strings of beads and a keyhole-shaped metallic piece that works as a counterpoise.
Ancient Egyptians considered the necklace a symbol of life, love, fertility, birth, and joy, after the goddess Hathor, and it was worn to attract these things into your life.
African Symbols of Love
A diamond-shaped symbol made of four squares, Eban symbolizes safety and security that love, family, and home provides you. The word “Eban” literally translates as “fence”, hinting towards its symbolic meaning.
Just like a fence creates a wall or division between two things, your loved ones create a wall of love around you, making you feel safe and secure. Simply put, the symbol denotes the feelings of safety and security that true love makes you experience.
Odo Nyre Fie Kwan
This African symbol not just denotes love and union but also represents the power of true love. It is highly revered by the Akan people (an ethnolinguistic African group) and is commonly used on wedding bands.
The symbol is also displayed in marriage ceremonies to denote the union of two people or souls. The phrase “Odo Nyera Fie Kwan” translates to “love never loses its way home”.
Japanese Symbols of Love
Eiai is a Japanese symbol of everlasting love. It is denoted with two kanji characters – Ei meaning eternal and Ai meaning love.
The top part of the kanji character Ai represents a person’s head, whereas the middle part is considered a symbol of a heart.
The lower part is considered a representation of the foot and a symbol for moving slowly. It is interpreted as the grace and poise that love adds to your personality.
Overall, the Eiai symbol represents the heart where true love lies and how it completely transforms a human being.
Hindu Symbols of Love
Doves may be known as universal symbols for peace, but they also represent deep and lasting love in Hindu culture and tradition.
It is also believed to be a symbolic representation of the human heart’s capacity to love endlessly.
Greek and Roman mythologies also associate doves with their goddesses of love – Aphrodite and Venus, respectively.
Animal Symbols of Love
The dolphin is associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite and Pythia (the oracle of Delphi). It is also commonly considered a messenger of love, as well as a sign of safety and good luck.
Drawing a dolphin on a boat anchor is believed to help you reach your loved ones safe and sound.
Ladybugs are quite commonly known as symbols of luck, but they also represent love and affection.
Legend has it that if someone releases a ladybug after capturing it, they will become its master, and the insect will continue to whisper that person’s name in their loved one’s ears.
It is also believed by some people that the number of spots on a ladybug can tell you how long it will take for your lover’s wish to be fulfilled.
In many cultures, farmers consider that the presence of ladybugs in their crops represents prosperity.
Symbols of Eternal Love
The symbolic meaning of clasped hands goes far beyond an expression of love and care. It represents eternal love – the kind of love that transcends time and even life.
It symbolizes that true lovers are never separated. Even if one of them dies, their love keeps them connected and bound to each other. It also represents the belief that the lovers will meet again, one day, sooner or later, in this life or in another.
This wraps up our post on symbols of love around the world and their origin stories. If you liked it, you will probably enjoy reading our detailed article on protection symbols here.
Alternatively, you can check out our posts on butterfly symbolism here and ladybug symbolism and meanings here. See you in the next post, thanks for reading on Symbols & Meanings.