Valentine’s Day and Chocolate: History and Gift Ideas
Valentine’s Day and chocolate have a long history together. Learn all about it, and get some sweet Valentine’s Day gift ideas!
Chocolate and roses are traditional gifts to signify one’s love on Valentine’s Day. Why chocolate has been linked to Cupid can be found through historical references of ancient Aztec rulers who believed chocolate was a gift from the gods, followed by Christopher Columbus, who brought back chocolate and gold to Europe, where the news of this new luxury and legend as an aphrodisiac quickly spread.
In the early 1800s, chocolate was made available to the general population in England and was sold in a heart-shaped box by the 1860s, forever linking chocolate to Valentine’s Day.
There’s actually an interesting history behind February 14, dating back to Roman times. Check out this video from history.com, which identifies how early traditions morphed into the holiday we know today, along with loads of holiday facts that you can use for an office water cooler chat or during family dinner time.
Valentine’s Day & Chocolate Facts
Q: How Popular is Valentine’s Day?
A: The U.S. Greeting Card Association, based in White Plains, NY, says that “Exchanging valentines has since become a deep-seated part of our American culture. Today, Valentine’s Day is the second most-popular card-sending occasion in the U.S. An estimated 145 million greeting cards will be bought for Valentine’s Day this year…That number doesn’t even include children’s packaged valentines—which add many millions more to the number of valentines purchased.”
National retail sales for Valentine’s Day include everything from candy to flowers to balloons. Restaurants are filled on the evening of February 14th, serving steaks & red wine to millions of couples. It is anticipated that nearly $26 million will be spent this Valentine’s Day, with millennials spending over $300/per couple.
Q: Is Chocolate Good for You?
Not only is eating chocolate known for putting one in a good mood, but recent research also suggests that dark chocolate has widespread health benefits. It’s exciting to know that eating delicious chocolate can help with improving vascular function and increased insulin sensitivity in people with and without diabetes. There are antioxidants and fiber in cocoa, and even moderate chocolate consumption offers benefits for the young and healthy as well.
…and So Is Giving Gifts
While chocolate puts you in a good mood, there’s also a correlation between gift-giving and positive feelings. Gift giving, in general, creates a greater level of happiness and good feelings in the person giving the gift. In fact, satisfaction and reward centers in the brain are activated during periods of giving, which can include volunteering, helping others, or giving gifts to others. The Wall Street Journal created a clever video showcasing research around the giving topic.
Other Ways to Enjoy Valentine’s Day
In addition to gifting chocolate for Valentine’s Day, consider the following simple ideas to make the day special, romantic or fun for the whole family.
- Wear Red. Get in the spirit of the day by dressing for the occasion—a red tie or socks for the men can add a splash of unexpected color, while a red scarf or belt for the gals shows some pizzazz for the holiday. Kids can enjoy wearing bold or subtle Valentine’s themed apparel and accessories too.
- Create Fun Food. Add red foods throughout the day—serving heart-shaped pancakes with raspberry syrup or preserves is a festive way to kick off Valentine’s Day. Sneak in a couple of chocolate-dipped strawberries in a brown bag lunch. Serve sparkling cranberry juice with dinner.
- Personalize It. Hide hand-written “love” notes around the house—on a pillow, in a backpack, briefcase or purse. Everyone will enjoy the surprise of finding a heart with a loving sentiment.
Search Valentine’s Day on Pinterest and hundreds of ideas—crafts, food, decorations, and more—will help spark creativity.
So get in the spirit and don’t forget that Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the special people in your life should include a healthy dose of chocolate! Suggestions include a chocolate gift basket, hand-decorated truffles, chocolate-coated butter toffee, creamy chocolate meltaways…or even a classic box of chocolates!