Valentine’s Day means spending quality time with those we love—no matter what kind of love we’re celebrating whether romantic, friendship, or family love. In these trying times, showing love to those close to us warms our hearts and keeps our troubles at bay.
In this Valentine’s Day blog, we’re going to offer some historical background to the holiday and then give some great ideas for celebrating during a pandemic.
Faunus & St. Valentine
Even in ancient times, romance was celebrated in February. Dating as far back as the 6th century B.C.E. in Rome, the fertility festival of Lupercalia was dedicated to the god Faunus who was the god of agriculture. Fast forward a few hundred years. After the death anniversary of St. Valentine (around 270 C.E.), people began to celebrate the saint on February 14th. Many believe that the Catholic Church placed his death-anniversary in February so that the pagan ritual of Faunus had a Catholic equivalent.
There are many legends about St. Valentine, but one story relates how he was caught and imprisoned. It says that he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and would send her love letters, signing them, “from your Valentine.” In the Middle Ages, charmed by these legends, St. Valentine became one of the most popular saints in parts of Europe. By the 1400s, people began sending their own declarations of love to their sweethearts and signing them, “from your Valentine.”
In the United States, people sent handmade valentines as early as the 1700s. By the late 19th C, Esther A. Howland began mass-producing cards that were trimmed in ribbons and lace. Today, it is estimated that more than 145 million Valentine’s cards are sent each year, marking this occasion second only to Christmas.
The kid in all of us likes the idea of being able to eat a vegan version of the traditional chocolate, cream-filled cupcake.
Hosting a Virtual Valentine’s Day Party
It’s always fun to spend time with those we love, especially when our world is uncertain. In these days of a pandemic, we are asked to shelter at home. Outside our own “bubble,” we have to take precautions by masking and social distancing. Although these guidelines preclude having parties in-person, we don’t have to forego celebrations. Of course not! We just have to get creative with how we celebrate.
One way to stay in touch with friends and faraway family is to have a Zoom party during which time we make our own chocolate treats together (while apart) and spend time enjoying our homemade indulgences.
Try your hand at making chocolate bars. Ours run from decadent to almost healthy. They are suitable for Valentine’s Day or any holiday you want something festive and make wonderful gifts, too!
Here are some questions to ask before getting ready to organize for a Chocolate Party:
First things first – the FOOD!
1. What Will You Be Serving?
Will you pull on your apron and whip up a Pinterest-worthy treat from scratch? Or will you, like my son’s friend, opt for a simple solution by mixing together every flavor of M&M into a big bowl? There’s a quick fix for everyone that will please the family.
Think of a special treat to prepare that will serve as a focal point for the evening. Here are a few ideas for special offerings:
- Hot Chocolate Bar
Especially if your socially-distanced party takes place outside, on a cold wintery night, your family will love this! In addition to hot chocolate, be sure to load up on whipped cream (dairy or vegan), vegan marshmallows, Mexican spices, red hots, cinnamon sticks, sprinkles, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips, smashed peppermint candy, caramel syrup, and pirouette cookies. Display an assortment of cute mugs, or if you have small children, make it easy and have some paper cups available that are suitable for hot drinks.
For the adults who like to combine coffee with their chocolate, this Brazilian Hot Chocolate is the answer.
- Cookie Decorating Station
Bake some eggless sugar or chocolate cookies, and put out an assortment of frostings (especially chocolate) and get drizzling! Tiny candies and sprinkles can be included so your friends can personalize their cookies before indulging. This is an especially fun activity for kids.
If you’re looking for a melt-in-your mouth sugar cookie, try our delicious recipe.
And now, for some other important aspects to planning your party . . .
2. When Is the Big Event Going to Happen?
February 14th would be the traditional day to have a party. However, if you have other plans on Valentine’s Day, any day in February will do for a chocolate smorgasbord. Weekends may be easiest to schedule a party.
Remember to Zoom if your bubble is small!
3. Send a special invitation.
Why not send each guest an invitation? You can make the invitations, using glitter, stickers and bits of lace. If you’re not feeling up to creating your own, do a search for “chocolate meme” or “death by chocolate meme” and see if you can find something that conveys your mood. Text the pic to your loved one/s and follow up with the details for your chocolate shindig.
4. Do You Have Any Special Considerations?
The word niche is used frequently in the business world, but it applies to parties, too. Having a chocolate party is pretty refined already, but do you want to take it further?
- Maybe your soiree will be all vegan.
- Do you want to link your event to a charity and have your children make a greeting card for shut-ins or a retirement home?
- Could your children go through their toys, books, or extra winter gear to donate to a local organization?
- Should everyone come wearing red?
After you’ve determined all the extras, convey this in your invitation. It will add another dimension to an already fun evening.
A decadent chocolate cake is always a welcome dessert and can be the centerpiece of your chocolate party, especially if you decorate it like ours!
5. What About Decorations?
It’s easy to make your home look festive. Tablecloths, flowers, paper products, and table decorations come in a variety of colors and patterns. Are you going to choose “red and pink,” or “gold, pink, and white,” or “black, gold, and red?” Search online for party decorations in your chosen colors, and you will discover a lot of ideas.
A Chocolate Party can work for intimate gatherings or big groups of over a hundred. No matter the size, it’s all about being together with your friends and dear ones for an evening of love, friendship, and connection. And let’s face it, the chocolate doesn’t hurt, either. In the present times, we may have to limit our party to family members but when we see how much fun it is, we will want to host a Chocolate Potluck Party when everything opens up, and we can gather freely.
The Veggie Fest website has a lot of recipes that will help you prepare some amazing food for your party. There are savory recipes, too, in case you’re looking for more than chocolate.
This chocolate mousse is velvety smooth decadence that everyone will love.
Whatever the size of your party and however you choose to celebrate, we at the Veggie Fest Team wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!
~ M from the Veggie Fest Team