Updated: Feb 24, 2021
As the end of the year draws to a close, I have been reflecting on all that I have learned from everyone I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with in the chocolate world. I have enjoyed hearing each person’s personal story and how they got involved in the chocolate industry. A statement that is often repeated in my mind is one that Will Lydgate shared during our interview, “I didn’t choose chocolate. Chocolate chose me.” If you are reading this, then perhaps this statement applies to you as well!
It wasn’t until more recently that I came to appreciate the rich history and the integral role chocolate continues to play in the lives of individuals, communities, and cultures. Chocolate is not merely a delectable substance that so many indulge in; it actually brings people together.
The Christmas season is the perfect example of this. Hence, before it comes to an end, it seemed fitting to spend time looking at some of the Christmas chocolate traditions around the world. Here are just a few.
A blog post on the Delycia.com website made reference to these traditions:
In Great Britain, for example, the Christmas tree is often decorated with small chocolate candies to be enjoyed by friends and relatives when they visit.
An even older holiday tradition dates back to the 4th century, when the generous bishop of Lycia (modern day Turkey), known as Saint Nicholas, was said to have given coins to the poor children in his city. This legend is also attributed to the modern tradition in many parts of the world of filling stockings with chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil.
Drinking chocolate is how the world was first introduced to our favored delicacy. According to Unbound.org:
Chocolate has been part of Latin American culture for 2,000 years. Today, most Latin American cultures serve hot chocolate with tamales during the Christmas season.
Another Christmas tradition in Peru is drinking hot chocolate. Hot chocolate in Peru is made out of cacao melted with milk, and sometimes mixed with coffee and spices.
This tradition of drinking chocolate goes on in many corners of the world. Countryliving.com made reference to Jolabokaflod, a tradition in Iceland that
started during World War II, when paper was one of the few things not rationed in Iceland. Because of this, Icelanders gave books as gifts …. After all the presents are open, everyone grabs a cup of hot chocolate and cozies up to spend the rest of the evening reading their books.”
While this is far from being an exhaustive list, it illustrates how chocolate is such an important part of the special occasions of life, including Christmas.
How is chocolate incorporated into your Christmas traditions? In my humble opinion there is no wrong or single way to enjoy chocolate, especially during this time of year. There are so many creative and delicious ways to enjoy it whether on its own or with other foods and flavors. So, why not add to your tradition and try a new chocolate concoction this year?
This year was a year of experimentation, as I am sure it has been for many of us. Chocolate dipped fruit is a delicacy that I rarely have. So this year I made batches of mouth watering chocolate dipped oranges, ginger, cherries, and dates. As I prepared to make them, I couldn’t help but think of making chocolate covered cacao beans. As a result, out came the roasted cacao beans from Trinidad (Rio Claro) to get drenched in a rich chocolate bath. What a wonderful taste sensation with a delightful crunchy texture!
As I created each item, my mind continued to fill with other ideas. This time instead of edible chocolate items I made chocolate related beauty products, such as a chocolate mist spray (because who doesn’t love the scent of chocolate, right?) and a cocoa butter based lip oil. What a perfect way for a chocolate lover to enjoy chocolate even when you aren’t eating it, right? Based on my experience, I am convinced that chocolate helps to bring out your creativity!
It is my hope that just as I found new ways to incorporate chocolate into Christmas that you will pursue and incorporate chocolate into yours! May your Christmas be merry, blessed, and bright - and tasty as well!