Love & Chocolate: A Brief History of Valentine’s Day
Love is in the air, and to many, so is the sweet smell of flowers and chocolates!
Valentine’s Day is well-known as an occasion to shower our significant others with gifts. Whether you’re trying to win the heart of a crush or reestablish your love for a long-standing partner, Valentine’s Day is a perfect time – after all, it’s the most romantic day of the year!
But did you know that Valentine’s Day as we know it, with luxurious gifts of decadent chocolate and fragrant roses, is a fairly new tradition? It wasn’t always associated with romantic love, either.
The roots of Saint Valentine’s Day, also known as the Feast of Saint Valentine in some parts, go back thousands of years, and not all historians agree about its origins. Here’s a brief peek into where this lovey-dovey holiday came from.
The Valentines of History
Did you know that Valentine is actually a surname? There were various early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine.
Records aren’t always clear, but old traditions are always filled with fun stories. According to tradition, one of the Saint Valentines supposedly restored sight to his jailer’s blind daughter. In later centuries, this story was embellished to include Saint Valentine writing a letter to the daughter and signing it, “Your Valentine.”
Another Saint Valentine may have performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry, further suggesting the origins of the love-themed holiday.
Yet another Saint Valentine was buried on February 14, which may have contributed to the reasoning for the date.
Let’s Add Some Romance
February 14th was originally a day to honor the martyred Saint Valentines, which isn’t exactly a romantic sentiment. So how did the holiday become so seeped with romance?
One interesting theory by historians is related to Lupercalia, an ancient Roman holiday observed February 13-15. Lupercalia celebrated Pan and Juno, the gods of love, marriage, and fertility. It’s possible that pieces of this ancient tradition melded with the Christian tradition of honoring Saint Valentine at the same time.
Another connection comes from Geoffery Chaucer, a 14th-century poet and writer best known for The Canterbury Tales. He also wrote a poem called Parliament of Fowls, which mentions Valentine’s Day as a time for every bird to choose their mate. This is considered the first recorded mention of Valentine’s Day as a romantic occasion.
Valentine Poetry and Cards
Showing affection during Valentine’s Day began with poems expressing the poet’s love. Historians have found records of Valentines being sent between husbands and wives as early as the 15th century.
But things really changed in 1797. A publication in Britain called The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was filled with ready-made love poems for those who wanted to woo their sweetheart but lacked the poetic ability to do so.
Around this time, printers began producing gorgeous Valentine’s Day cards with poetry and images, which people could purchase and send to their beloved. These early Valentines were often very fancy and were embellished with lace, ribbons, and floral decorations!
As for the Question You’ve Been Waiting For…
So, where’s the chocolate?
Chocolate actually didn’t become a mainstay of Valentine’s Day until 1868. The chocolate company Cadbury created a heart-shaped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and the rest is history. The heart-shaped boxes were so popular that they quickly became a beloved gifting tradition for showing love.
For chocolate lovers like us, it’s no surprise. Receiving a stunning, romantically-themed gift box that’s filled to the brim with decadent chocolate treats? It’s love at first sight!
A History (and a Future) of Love
Valentine’s Day has changed a lot since its origins, and it’s not done yet. Decadent, gourmet Belgian dark chocolate brownies are the new chocolates, for example.
There are also new traditions like Galentine’s Day, a non-official holiday to celebrate friends. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic love anymore. After all, love knows no bounds!
When you’re surrounded by those you love and appreciate, it makes sense that you’d want to jump on any excuse to express that love. Family, friends, and our network of connections are crucial to staying connected and building a sweeter and more interconnected world.
All in all, we’re happy for another day that makes us pause and say, “I love you.” And if there’s chocolate involved, who are we to complain?
Valentine's Day Gifts to Make Them Swoon
Lavish your loved ones with a unique, heartfelt gift of handcrafted brownies for Valentine’s Day. Our rich, decadent Belgian chocolate treats are baked from scratch with the finest all-natural ingredients for a gourmet quality you can taste!