For the Love of Chocolate
There’s something utterly indulgent about the texture, the taste, the smell of chocolate. Whether you love dark, white, or milk, one bite hits all your senses in one go… It’s not surprising, then, that chocolate – the most sensuous of gifts – is given on Valentine’s day.
But why do we celebrate love on the 14th of February?
It all stems back to the legend of Christian martyr Valentinus, who supposedly sent a letter ‘of affection’ to his jailer’s daughter the night before his execution.
It’s recorded that, in 14th century England and France, poems of love were composed for Valentine’s Day, celebrating Valentinus’s ode. They also celebrated with ‘matchmaking’ lotteries, in which boys’ and girls’ names were drawn from hats, seeing couples paired off.
By the 17th century, gifts and cards became the tradition, and people gave them to their chosen beau. The gifts themselves were lavish and expensive – jewellery being the norm – and so enjoyed more by the higher classes of society.
It wasn’t until Victorian times that the celebration really took off for everyone – present-giving diminished and the giving of elaborate cards took hold, the more extravagant the better. The words held as much meaning as the magnificent card, and people pondered long and hard over the message they were sending. Both men and women cherished these tokens of affection dearly.
Carefully crafted, meaningful cards may be a thing of the past. As are expensive jewellery and lotteries to find love. But, thanks to a certain worldwide chocolate producer in the 1840s, we now associate Valentine’s Day with the giving of chocolate and flowers. It may involve less effort than days gone by, but through chocolate we can treat each other, indulge that special person – whether partner, or best friend – with something meaningful, and decadent, showing them a wee bit of affection to brighten their day.
Happy Valentine’s, folks!