The tradition of celebrating love in all its appearances has a history that dates back more than a millennium! Early Romans are known for their indulgences and excess, living a life of extremes; think gladiators, martyrs and a general excess of lavish foods among other lifestyle indulgences.
Live to Eat or Eat to Live?
This question has been posed for ages , so long that it pre-dates the Roman origins of Valentine’s Day! The day when love is professed and expressed, usually with lovely, delectable and sinfully divine edible gifts primarily in the form of chocolate. Hélas, c’est ça—my dilemma and torment over “Live to eat or eat to live!”
Valentine’s Day, and many other wonderful holidays, are generally associated closely with both the festivity and food, naturellement! Where, then does the joie de vivre enter? Eh Ben MOI? Why spend my time worrying, all right obsessing, over the divine morsel that may well ruin the celebration, je me demande? Can’t I possibly live both edits in my daily life? Mais oui, just not at the same time.
How is it that the ancient celebration of Valentine’s Day- dating back to 200 AD, become synonymous with chocolate? The Ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, Feb. 13-15 was a rite of fertility, dites- donc l’amour, which naturally was connoted to marriage (for those who were permitted to marry, that is). St. Valentine defied Roman law, taking it upon himself to marry those who were forbidden to marry, for example—Roman soldiers and early Christians, hence his imprisonment and eventual demise.
Chocolate had yet to be discovered and brought to the known world, and would not be for quite some time to come. Professing one’s love by giving handmade card was established, when on the eve of his execution, Valentine sent a note to his jailer’s daughter, signing it, “From your Valentine.”
Indulgent in all senses, the Romans were famous for gorging and living a truly excessive life. Only a select few indulged in chocolate when it emerged as an aphrodisiac; few had access. Which made this food even more superb! It is widely believed that the custom of giving a loved one kissing comfits, bonbons and eventually chocolate began sometime during the late Renaissance. The pleasure of benefactor or benefactress mutual—pure joy and delight! L’amour knows no bounds, it is limitless—ne c’est pas? Indulging those we love or being indulged is bliss, mai oui!