We love Valentine’s Day for its secret pleasures, romance against all odds and having one day in the year unashamedly devoted to saying “I love you”.
The day itself has a habit of creeping up on you though… Before you know it – it’s just there and you’re all a flutter waiting to see if a secret admirer will pop up. Will you dare send that card to him/her? Will this year be the year your partner does something really special…(or is it your turn?)
Giving chocolate is recognised as a romantic gesture, particularly on Valentine’s Day. It’s not hard to see why – chocolate has long been considered an aphrodisiac, since the Aztecs were the first to draw a link between cocoa beans and sexual desire.
In the UK, we’re accustomed to giving and receiving chocolate gifts during almost every major holiday and celebration, however, Valentine’s Day chocolates are often the most luxurious, and certainly the most amorous.
Around the world, many other countries and cultures also exchange the gift of chocolate on the 14th February, with their own spin on the tradition. Roses, chocolate or a simple poem, perhaps a padlock on a bridge to show commitment. Whatever your religion or culture, valentines day is a way of showing, sharing and giving love.
Here we found a selection of some of the more interesting Valentine’s Day chocolate traditions, and some suggestions for ways we can take inspiration from them this February 14th:
In South Korea, tradition dictates that it is women who woo men with chocolate on Valentine’s Day. Subsequently, a day called White Day, taking place just one month later on the 14th March, is the day for men to go one step further; they gift their partners with not just chocolates, but also flowers and a special gift.
Take inspiration from this tradition: give the coffee-loving man in your life a box of gianduja pralines in a rich coffee flavour, Bella Box Caffe, £17.95
The Japanese have a similar tradition to that of South Korea, but chocolate happens to be even more of a focal point – women not only gift chocolates to their partners on Valentine’s Day, but also to co-workers and classmates, with what is known as giri choco, or ‘obligation chocolate’.
Take inspiration from this tradition: bring a bag of delicious pralines to work, to share with colleagues on February 14th, Delice, £6.95
Like other countries, Valentine’s Day paraphernalia include red roses, chocolates and cards. A peculiar twist in Germany however is the giving of large gingerbread cookies. Also for sale at Christmas, the large cookies are most popular on “Valentinstag”. In the shape of a heart, decorated with white frosting, they usually contain a few words written to express love or a lovers intentions.
We know that Italians take chocolate very seriously, so it is no surprise to find that one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts in Italy is Baci Perugina, from the Piedmont region. These are small, chocolate-covered hazelnuts, wrapped in foil with a romantic message written inside. Baci means kiss in Italian, so in exchanging these as gifts, lovers are really exchanging kisses.
Take inspiration from this tradition: Give your lover these chocolates with a single hazelnut inside, also from the Piedmont region, another traditional signal of love in Italy, Cri Cri, £10.95
Although Valentine’s Day is growing in popularity, for much of history Romanians celebrated “Dragobete. Drogobete is a mythological creature who represents, youth, love, hope, nature and rebirth. The protector or birds and like Cupid, a god of love.
Traditionally young people perform rituals to find love and happiness dressed in their finest clothes. These include searching the woods for spring flowers, coming together for singing and dancing. Those who celebrate are said to be protected from sickness for the rest of the year.
Chocolate is less of a feature on Valentine’s Day itself in Denmark, however, one of their February 14th traditions does have a curious tie with another chocolate-laden celebration; men typically give women gaekkebrev, otherwise known as a ‘joking letter’. These notes are funny poems or rhymes anonymously written on intricately-cut paper, and the recipient must attempt to guess who the sender is. If she is correct, she earns a chocolate Easter egg later in the year.
Take inspiration from this tradition: write a puzzle in your loved one’s Valentine card. If they guess the correct answer, promise to purchase them a chocolate egg for Easter, Imperial Egg Cremini, £11.95