Valentine’s Day history begins with the 3rd-century Roman saint, Christian Saint Valentine. Today is all about communicating your love and appreciation for others. Typically, this involves chocolates, strawberries, and other edible heart-shaped goodies. But let’s hear more about Saint Valentine before we get to the desserts!
Prosecuted for his Christian beliefs, it’s said that Valentine gave sight back to the once blind Julia. This child was the daughter of Valentine’s jailer, Asterius. After the event, Asterius converted to Christianity himself, along with almost 50 family members and household servants. The night before Valentine was to be executed, the prisoner sent a card to Julia signing off with “Your Valentine”. This is something we’re all familiar with today. Other stories of Valentine describe him as performing weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry their young fiances for it was believed married men made terrible soldiers. The reason being, they had a higher tendency for homesickness.
By the 18th century, the English were exchanging flowers, Valentines greeting cards, and of course, chocolates and candies! By the 1860s, Cadbury released Fancy Boxes for Valentine’s Day; chocolates that came in the now classic heart shape box we’ve since seen replicated them countless times. Another iconic Valentines Day treat that’s sadly disappearing are the little Sweethearts, Conversation Hearts, with printed messages like “Be Mine”, “Kiss Me”, and “Miss You” … Once owned by the New England Confectionery Company (NECCO), they were eventually picked up by Spangler Candy Company. Sadly, this was when NECCO had to file for bankruptcy in 2018. But there’s more sad news. Spangler were unable to produce the Sweethearts for the 2019 Valentine’s Day celebrations, and 2020 saw printing issues with their manufacturing equipment. Hopefully 2021 will deliver some good news for all the Conversation Heart lovers.
Good news: we don’t have to cancel Valentine’s Day. You can appease the inner sugar fiend with sweet options like these Valentine’s Day candies and chocolates, for instance. We can also search to include dietary requirements. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this romantic holiday. Generally, we can find red and white desserts with strawberries and fresh cream. There’s also heart-shaped anything from cakes, cookies, candy, and chocolates. Moreover, red velvet cakes and cupcakes are popular this time of year, as are chocolate mousses, puddings and truffles. Similarly, there’s ganache everywhere.
However you celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, spare a thought for the Valentine’s Day history and the real Saint Valentine as you dig into your much-loved desserts.