Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger
I have loved chocolate ever since I was little. One present that I always found stuffed in my stocking on Christmas morning when I was a child was a small sack of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. How I enjoyed unwrapping the candy coins and letting the dark brown disks melt on my tongue!
Here’s a poem that I wrote about my memories of those candy coins:
UNDER THE TREE
Here’s a gift to savor…not save:
A sack of candy coins
Wrapped in gold…
Milk chocolate medallions
That melt on my tongue.
I won’t stash this sweet cash.
I’m putting this money
Where my mouth is!
© Elaine Magliaro
From the Smithsonian:
Following the Civil War, Koenig writes, Hanukkah was rarely celebrated by American Jews, who considered it a minor festival. By the 1920s, though, it returned to popularity, paralleling Christmas in its increasing commercialism. American candy companies capitalized on this emerging market by introducing foil-wrapped chocolate coins, possibly inspired by the Dutch tradition of giving chocolate coins, called geld, to celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicholas on December 6. They also produced chocolate Macabee soldiers and latkes—I can’t imagine why those didn’t take off—but only gelt has stood the test of time, becoming an indispensable part of the Hanukkah celebration.
From The Tennessean
The giving of gifts by Santa Claus has its roots in Europe. Several myths, added to some religiously significant supporting documentation, describe a person who was granted sainthood because of what he did to help those in need. A truly Christian belief is helping those in need. That story began with three sisters who were destitute and destined to live lives of ill-repute or starve. According to legend, Nicholas had money and he threw gold coins through the sisters’ window, where they fell into stockings hung by the fireplace to dry.
Nicholas was sainted and thus became St. Nick and the Catholic church celebrated the saints with feasts. Somewhere along the line, probably tied to the gold-giving story, people began giving presents in his name on his feast day in early December. After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, St. Nick’s following disappeared in all of the Protestant countries except Holland, where his legend continued, with the name translated to Sinterklaas. Martin Luther, the primary Protestant reformer, replaced this bearer of gifts (St. Nick) with the Christ child, or, in the German language, Christkindl. Over the years, that came to be pronounced Kris Kringle.
In Holland, Sinterklaas would visit all over the country to determine whether the children had been good. During this time, children would sing Sinterklaas songs and put their shoes next to the window, door or by the fire along — with a wish-list and a carrot or hay and maybe a saucer of water — for the horse on which Sinterklaas entered the towns. He checked on the children’s behavior. The next morning children might find chocolate coins and little gifts in their shoes. They did not want coal or a little bag of salt, indicating they had been bad.
It appears that my granddaughter Julia inherited her “Gammy’s” love of chocolate!
Chocolate Prices Soar as Appetites Get Bigger (New York Times)
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!