The Lost Meaning Of Symbols

With the introduction of Twitter's new heart icon to replace the well-known star, we've read a lot of different articles discussing the reasons behind it and the opinions surrounding it. Some argue that it was stupid to limit Twitter users to one positive emotion at a time when Facebook is introducing a whole range of different emotions, but all this got us wondering about where the heart symbol came from in the first place.

It turns out there are many different symbols we see on a daily basis that we don't actually know the true meaning of!

The Heart Symbol
It turns out the symbol primarily associated with Valentine's Day and love in this day and age, is actually rather ancient. There have been a few different uses for it throughout history, but the most original comes from the Roman Era. Apparently the Romans were particularly fond of a herb called Silphium, which was used in food but most importantly to them, it was apparently quite an effective form of birth control. The heart symbol comes from the shape of the seed of this plant and has been found embossed onto coins. Unfortunately, Silphium was used so extensively that it's now extinct, so we will never be able to see it for ourselves.

Twitter's new red heart symbol, replacing the classic star.

 

The Barber's Pole
This well-known red and white stripy pole actually has a fairly grisly origin. Placed on the front of buildings to signify there's a barbershop inside, we pass these in the street without thinking twice. But did you know that barbers back in the Middle Ages also used to act as surgeons? They carried out all sorts of procedures like the removal of gallstones, but primarily they were known for bloodletting. It was believed people could bleed out their illness and bad spirits; so you would grab a bandaged pole, he would slice your wrists with a sharp knife and you would bleed down the pole into the bandages. There you have it!

 

The retro barbers poll, famous around the world.

 

The Peace Symbol
The meaning of this symbol hasn't been forgotten, but the message behind why it was designed in the first place has. It was actually created by a man called Gerald Holtom in 1958, and it signified Nuclear Disarmament. It became a way to signify freedom and eventually was adapted in the 1960s to stand for peace and the hippie movement. The circle represents complete disarmament, and the lines within represent the human movements for the letters 'N' and 'D'. Clever!

 

The peace symbol and its interesting history.

 

This looks at just three symbols whose meanings have been forgotten, but rest assured there are many others! Can you think of any?

 

Written by

Total Merchandise | Editoral Team

Our editorial team is drawn from a pool of experienced promotional merchandise product team members, account managers, marketers and other contributors. With such a wide range of skills and experience, they write about many aspects of promotional merchandise, wider marketing and business matters, as well as company news updates.

Connect with Total Merchandise on LinkedIn Connect with Total Merchandise on LinkedIn

Total Merchandise
The TM Edit: Our Most Popular Promotional Products Of 2019

The TM Edit: Our Most Popular Promotional Products Of 2019

With the end of the year - and decade! - fast-approaching, we've decided to shine a light on the most popular promotional products of 2019.  These are no...

Promotional Merchandise Items That Can Help Mental Wellbeing

Promotional Merchandise Items That Can Help Mental Wellbeing

The conversation around mental health and wellbeing is growing ever-louder and - it goes without saying - with due cause. With levels of stress, anxiety and depression at all-ti...

10 Branded Metal Bottles To Consider For Your Next Campaign

10 Branded Metal Bottles To Consider For Your Next Campaign

With research revealing 85% of the UK public are worried about the impact of plastic pollution on the planet, there's never been a better time to consider a branded met...

4 Things To Consider When Ordering Promotional Face Masks

4 Things To Consider When Ordering Promotional Face Masks

Following today's government announcement that the wearing of face coverings will be compulsory wearing by staff and customers in hospitality settings, as well as by st...

'Tis The Season! Branded Advent Calendar Ideas For Christmas 2020

'Tis The Season! Branded Advent Calendar Ideas For Christmas 2020

Okay, okay: it's mid-September and Christmas might well be the very last thing on your mind. But there really is no better time than right now to start thinking about y...

Hands, Face, Space: Social Distancing Items For UK Businesses

Hands, Face, Space: Social Distancing Items For UK Businesses

It's safe to say that products such as face masks, hand sanitiser and items to encourage social distancing are going to be around for a while to come. Whilst this...