The History of XOXO

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, and kisses flying right and left (and online) we did a little digging to find out just what we were saying when we write XOXO.

The custom of placing Xs in lieu of signatures on letters and other communications originated in the Middle Ages. The X was then kissed as a display of sworn oath in truth and honesty. The O’s, on the other hand, appeared in the US by way of Jewish immigrants. Their language of origin was Yiddish and shop keepers would often use an O when signing documents. Eventually the two symbols merged and became a common sign-off.

The next question, of course, is how the two symbols made the transition to hugs and kisses. And there are as many theories as there are x’s and o’s strung together. Our favorite brings a little geek love to the scene: The mathematical meaning of X can signify zero, or an infinity of delight. Or just multiplying love and joy.

A more common one is that X represented the stylized picture of two mouths puckered for a kiss. This theory makes the hug the O (squint really hard and imagine two people hugging, viewed from above).

Regardless, this Valentine’s Day it’s been our favorite expression.

P.S. This Valentine’s Day, its all about the kiss. View special packages for Valentine’s Day here. Come in to visit us the week of Valentine’s Day and receive a Love Note – who knows, you might just be a winner!