It would be nice to claim that St. Valentine’s Day took place in February because warmed hearts are so desirable in the face of ice and snow. It would also be mere fantasy. Although it is not a public holiday anywhere, St. Valentine’s Day is a cultural celebration that has garnered hearts and followers around the world.
In the time of our particular Valentine, 3rd C AD, the Roman Emperor had declared that soldiers were not to be married as married soldiers were excused from war service. Things being what they were, Imperial Rome had a few wars going and needed her soldiers at the ready. Valentine, a Christian in a still unchristian reign, performed marriage ceremonies for quite a few soldiers anyway, thus robbing Pax Romana of the necessary cannon fodder. He was summarily sentenced to be beheaded. While awaiting execution, he is reputed to have restored the sight of his jailer’s daughter. Before being led to the chopping block on February 14, 269 AD, he penned a farewell note to the girl and signed it “Your Valentine”.
However, it wasn’t until Geoffrey Chaucer penned his “The Parlement of Foules” that Valentine became the patron saint of romantic love in all its guises, which is how St. Valentine’s Day became dedicated to lovers. Cupid, son of Venus, was pretty much a Johnny-come-lately on the Valentine’s Day scene. Not that he wasn’t, as the Roman god of love, naturally entitled to a role. He was already well known for twanging arrows of desire into the hearts of the chosen. He is often portrayed as being winged, symbolic of his flightiness and caprice, and being blindfolded, representing his blinkered and arbitrary choices.
The Victorians, bless their complicated little hearts, are credited with bringing flowers, cards and sweets to the party. What else could be expected of those who devised specialized forks for pickles, ornately decorated silver scissors for cutting grape clusters and those exceptional silver dividers to assure that the toast was cooled as quickly as possible? They embellished elegant stationery with fanciful hearts, cupids and paper lace. English hothouse roses made many a fortune as they became yet another symbol of romance. In fact, it was the British chocolate company, Cadbury, who created “Fancy Boxes”, colorful, decorated heart-shaped boxes of chocolate truffles.
Who doesn’t like chocolate? It has melted its way into quite a few holidays for, in addition to chocolate hearts, we now have chocolate Santas, chocolate Easter bunnies and just plain chocolate chocolate. Okay by me. Today’s recipe is for Chocolate Bourbon Kisses a decidedly adult treat. Check out our web site for other chocolate recipes such as Mini Fudge Brownies, Ridiculously Easy Fudge and Chocolate Tart with Gingersnap Crust.