Today—February 14—is Valentine’s Day! (We hope you remembered!) Ever wonder when Valentine’s Day traditions started: the cards, the chocolate, the heart-shape boxes? The February edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac Monthly shares a bit of background on this popular holiday’s history!
A Little Valentine’s Day History
Nobody knows exactly why chocolate has become the food of choice for many people on Valentine’s Day, February 14. At the Almanac, we eat it all year long!
1500s: Handmade valentines were customarily being sent from admirers to sweethearts.
1521: Spanish explorer Hernando Cortés tasted cacao, liked it, and called it chocolatl because he had difficulty pronouncing its Aztec name, xocolatl.
1800s: The first commercial valentine cards appeared. Cards were usually sent anonymously.
1822: An English official reported having to hire extra postal workers to handle the increased volume of mail on February 14.
1847: The first solid chocolate candy bar was made in England.
1848: Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts, started selling high-quality valentine cards that became so popular that she became known as the Mother of the American Valentine.
1876: The first milk chocolate candy appeared.
1890s: The first confection-filled, heart-shape, ornately decorated boxes (or “caskets”) were created by English chocolatier Richard Cadbury.
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