Penny Dreadfuls of the Victorian Era

Violet Hamers

Hello, my sweetie! You may not know it, but while Saint Valentine’s is rooted in the Roman era, the custom of donating sweets for his celebration is much more modern.Ancient sources reveal that Saint Valentine, who lived during the Roman era and died on February 14, was not just one person, but many. And none of them had anything to do with love! 

But, truffle hearts, pralines, and red heart-shaped boxes; these are Valentine’s Day timeless symbols for all lovers of the world. But how did chocolates turn out to be a tradition for the sweetest feast of the year?Keep reading, sweetie! 🙂

Who was Saint Valentine?

Some say that the real Valentine was a priest who performed illegal marriages for Emperor Claudius’ soldiers, while others that he was a man who signed a letter with the signature “Your Valentine” to his guardian daughter, whom he had cured of blindness.

But none of the above stories have ever been proved.The celebration of Valentine’s Day as the day of lovers actually emerged in the 14th century and probably came about thanks to Geoffrey Chaucer‘s poem in 1382.

The Middle Ages and the Victorian era

During the Middle Ages, there was a “tendency” towards illegal but pure love. And as sugar was a valuable commodity in Europe at that time, the knights confined themselves instead, to give the noble roses and songs that glorified their beauty.

By the early 1840 Valentine’s Day had spread to almost the entire English-speaking world. It was the golden age of Valentine’s Day, during which, Victorians glorified pure love and offered cards and other gifts to the object of desire.Just a few years later, in 1868, a crucial invention occurred that linked the celebration to the use of chocolates; Mr. Cadbury’s heart-shaped boxes. 

The intelligent Mr. Cadbury and his collectible boxes

Richard Cadbury, a descendant of a British wealthy family in the business of chocolate, and responsible for sales at a critical juncture in the company, appeared during this time.Cadbury had recently improved the technique of chocolate making, to get pure cocoa butter from whole grains, creating a delicious chocolate drink that had nothing to do with what the British knew until then.This process resulted in a huge amount of cocoa, which Cadbury used to make various varieties of what was then called edible chocolate.

Richard realized that this product was a great opportunity for the market and began selling his chocolates in nice boxes he designed. It didn’t take long for the heart-shaped boxes, now known to all of us, to appear. Although Richard Cadbury never patented this design, he is believed to be its original creator.This way, his products, wrapped in heart-shaped boxes and colorful ribbons, could be used to express love and affection. 

In fact, he made sure to present these boxes as dual-use boxes. After all the chocolates had been consumed, the box itself was so beautiful that it could be used again and again to store souvenirs of all kinds.These boxes later evolved and became more elaborate until the outbreak of World War II, when sugar became a luxury again and celebrations of lovers’ diminished.Nevertheless, many Cadbury boxes from the Victorian era still exist and are kept as heirlooms or valuable collectors’ items.

Well, my sweetie, this is the end of this article!

I hope you enjoyed it—I certainly did while writing it!

Thank you for accompanying me on my writing journey!

It would be lovely if you could share your thoughts with me! Or whatever you like…Surprise me! 

Written by Violet Hamers

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