Here at Ice Cream Ireland, we’re fans of Valentine’s Day, which is coming up fast. Love is always a good thing to celebrate, and loved ones can always use the extra attention. Besides, any tradition that involves eating chocolates is a tradition I can happily get behind.
So what is Valentine’s Day anyway? A bit of history:
The Romans Know How to Party
Valentine’s Day is probably based upon the Roman holiday of Lupercalia, a fesitival celebrating the Goddess Juno Februa. The name probably comes from Lupus (wolf in Latin) in honour of the wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, who are credited with founding the city. It is said that one of the traditions including men randomly picking love poems (written by women) from an urn, and thereby selecting their partner for the duration of the festival.
The Church Has a Better Idea
In 496, Pope Gelasius I declared the 14th of February a feast day in honour of St. Valentine. Which Valentine is a bit of a mystery, as there were at least three St. Valentines, at least two two of whom are thought to have been martyred on February 14th (possibly the most important of the three was a Gnostic Christian in Alexandria, who wrote and preached about love).
One of the most prevelant stories about St. Valentines is that he was imprisoned and martyred for perfoming Christian weddings after they were banned by Emperor Claudius II. Another story is that the daughter of his jailor fell in love with him after he miraculously restored her sight, and when Valentine was being led off to his martyrdom he left her a little note, naturally ending “…from your Valentine.”
St. Valentine: An Irish Angle
The relics of one of the St. Valentines (Valentine of Rome) were given by the Holy See in 1836 to the Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, where they are stored.
Or Is the Day Norwegian?
In Norway, this time of year is dedicated to the god Vali, son of Odin, and called ‘Lios-beri’ or light bringing. Vali was worshipped as an archer and said to be the awakener of tender thoughts and the patron of lovers.
Chaucer makes it literary
In 1382, Chaucer made the first literary romantic reference to Valentine’s Day in his “Parlement of Foules.” He wrote, “For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [chose] his make [mate].”
Romance? Has to be the French
The earliest surviving Valentine’s is a poem by Charles, the Duke of Orleans, to his wife, written while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.
Who Made It About Chocolate?
The first Valentine’s chocolates were marketed in a heart-shaped box by Richard Cadbury in 1861. Solid chocolate as we know it was a recent invention at the time!
Top 5 Romantic Tips from Ice Cream Ireland
1. Spice Things Up: Make the Aztec Hot Chocolate. Both chocolate and chilli peppers are generally thought to be aphrodisiacs.
2. Go Over the Top: Champagne Sorbet will always get a bit of attention. Serve it with fresh fruit or chocolates.
4. Feeling Saucy? Make some chocolate sauce. Use it to dunk fresh strawberries. Of course there are other uses for chocolate sauce, but that is none of my business!
5. Chat them up: Take time for a romantic chat over a cup of coffee. Naturally, bring out the chocolates. For an extra bit of sweetness with your coffee, try an affogato.