Why Chocolate on Valentine's Day?
Having been a part of the Hill St. team for a few years now, one would assume I could confidently answer the question, why chocolate on Valentine’s Day? When asked this before, I have usually gone for the simple answers, something about romance, or decadence, or perhaps that association there is with passion and chocolate. Whilst these are all true, they don’t really answer the question of why every year we will always turn to chocolates when Valentine's inevitably creeps up on us.
After a little research, I began to piece together the puzzle that is chocolate and love, and it seems we have the Aztecs to blame. During this postclassic period of Mesoamerican history, chocolate, or more specifically the cacao bean, was seen as a gift from the god of life, light and wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. It was consumed for a variety of purposes, including as an aphrodisiac, as rations for soldiers, as well as being a form of currency. Very quickly, an association between chocolate and indulgence was formed, an association us at Hill St. wish to continue.
For 16th century Europe, the cacao tree was mostly unheard of, that was until Christopher Columbus came across it during his fourth mission to the Americas in 1502. Still, the expansion of chocolate did not make significant progress until industry reached a higher peak, such as in 1729, when the first mechanical cocoa grinder was invented in England. As the production of chocolate expanded, it became a staple when wanting to express love and affection. From the Aztecs use as an aphrodisiac, to our appreciation today of different flavours coming from fresh, natural ingredients, it is no surprise that we turn to chocolate for Valentine’s Day.
For the last few years here at Hill St. we have had the privilege of commencing Valentine’s Day with an export of our fresh chocolates to Japan. Valentine’s Day in Japan is an interesting concept, since they celebrate love on two different dates, February 14th, and March 14th. In February for Valentine’s Day, it is traditional for women to give chocolates to the man she likes, whereas in March, which is referred to as ‘White Day’, the roles are reversed. Chocolate is such a big part of Valentine’s in Japan and so it is such a pleasure to have our local Hill St. chocolates amongst the tradition.
From all of us here at Hill St, we hope you enjoy a Valentine’s Day that is filled with both love and of course, chocolate.