October 22, 2020
Why do We Give Chocolates as a Present?
Every year in the UK (even one as dismal as 2020), families and friends present one another with boxes of sweet-tasting treats. The reasoning behind this behaviour seems obvious: chocolates taste good, and we tend to appreciate it when it’s gifted to us!
But exactly how did chocolates come to be so particularly associated with the festive period? Let’s take a look.
Christmas and Gift-giving
According to the gospel of Matthew, magi from the east brought the newborn Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, thus establishing a tradition for gift-bestowing at this time of year. The timing of Christmas coincides with that of Saturnalia, a Roman festival paying homage to Saturn (that’s the god, not the planet) during which Romans would give one another gift.
Christmas and Chocolate
Naturally, chocolate wasn’t imported into the UK until centuries later. But things took a turn for the sweet during the middle ages, with the advent of roaring log fires, which began the tradition of yule logs. Within these hearths, cakes were baked – before families had access to ovens. When chocolate was later brought back from the new world, the traditional yule log began to take form.
Chocolate in the Modern Era
Chocolatiers in the Victorian era struck upon the idea of making a special kind of chocolate at Christmas time, for commercial purposes. Workers would put money aside every week for months on end, and come away at Christmas with a box of hand-selected treats. Today, the practice isn’t quite so costly as that – we have access to glorious flavours that our ancestors could have never imagined. It, therefore, seems a bit rude not to take advantage!
Why Gift Chocolate? So why does chocolate make a great gift? Let’s take a look.
At Christmas time, when the house is crowded, you need sweet treats that’ll please a range of palates. Thus, chocolate hampers are perfect. You’ll always find someone willing to scoop those coffee-flavoured chocolates from the bottom of the box!
Nowadays, of course, specialist chocolatiers will provide themed boxes, so that you get a little more of what you like, while still getting enough variety from treat to treat.
Chocolate does provide a few health benefits if it’s consumed in moderation, and in dark form. But for most of us, Christmas is a time of indulgence – to remind ourselves that it’s healthy to occasionally treat ourselves, even when we know we’ll be having to burn those extra calories in January!