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)
Dogs and Chocolate: Get the Facts (WebMD)
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
17 thoughts on “For the Love of Chocolate…Childhood…and Christmas”
Elaine, yes, chocolate is pretty wonderful, but NOTHING beats a grandchild!
Raff….. They are still around…..
There is certainly something to be said of childhood: Having the blessing and the grace to wonder in the bliss of chocolate; it’s embrace of your lips and wrap upon your chin, without even a spark of worry in what others might think of your manners.
Elaine: “It was a S’Mores cupcake that I got from a wonderful bakery in Danvers, Massachusetts.”
WoW, I was thinking earlier about trying my hand at making s’mores as a Christmas treat for the better half and I. I never seem to get it right and they’re just a semi-foul mess but I know if done properly they would be sublime.
Weird convergence = weird convergence. It sounds like a great cupcake though.
German potato pancakes and Hungarian sausage was traditional on New Years Eve in our house growing up.
Wait till she eats the muscovite cake that I make for Christmas. It tastes a lot like that S’Mores cupcake.
Great photo and kid. That’s unabashed joy on her face.
My mother taught me how to make placki (Polish potato pancakes). My husband loves them! Sometimes, I make them for New Year’s Eve and serve them with creme fraiche and caviar. Yum!
We sold our house of many years and downsized this past June. We bought an artificial that’s the perfect size for our in-law apartment. It came in three pieces. It was simple to assemble.
What a sweet granddaughter!
Chocolate latkes?…I don’t think so. As much as I love chocolate, give me the real potato pancakes anytime, which are part of my maternal German heritage. As for the chocolate part of it, I too often enjoyed the pleasure of opening German Advent calendars with a piece of chocolate (usually shaped like the backing picture) behind each door. (The base of the calendar was molded plastic, so it served as a chocolate tray, and an image representing whatever the chocolate was shaped like could be stamped on the indentation holding the tiny chocolate piece.)
My mother, whose parents were German and at one point had German foster parents, gave in to her children’s clamoring to put the tree up before Christmas Eve–usually no more than a week or so earlier, though–even though she always maintained to us that when she was a child, Santa brought the Christmas tree, and she didn’t even see it until Christmas morning after he had “brought” it, and that was really how we “should” do it, too. (Poor Santa–having to not only fit all those gifts in his sleigh, but all those trees plus lights and ornaments–and put up and decorate all those trees in a night! How did he ever do it all?) Of course, this held no water with my sisters and me. Still, putting up the artificial tree we had for many years was a real pain in the butt, requiring the insertion of a jillion numbered branches into the correspondingly numbered drilled slots on a wooden pole. My mother hated the job (and the end-of-season job of having to disassemble the tree and re-label all the branches with the correct numbers, using little slips of paper and tape), so in retrospect I can’t blame her for trying to postpone it for as long as she could. We were just eager to get the thing up, because we had the fun job of decorating it and then having it sit there for a week, reminding us Christmas was not far away.
My ultimate irresistible chocolate Christmas craving? Chocolate-covered marzipan. Something in my German DNA demands it. And nobody makes it like the Germans. And these days, it’s pretty cheap and easy to find at Aldi. Heaven…
It wasn’t a cream puff. It was a S’Mores cupcake that I got from a wonderful bakery in Danvers, Massachusetts.
I don’t have a sweet tooth…I have a sweet teeth! At least the ones I still have! 🙂
Ah, chocolate. I well remember the gold coins which I would hold in my hot little hands with the expected results … but it was the anticipation. I used to eat only two and then stack the rest on my dresser to look at … not quite in keeping with your poem. 😉
My true chocolate delight is fudge. Fudge, plain, with pecans, with walnuts, on cake, on ice cream. Every Christmas my great aunt would make a batch of fudge just for me. She would put each piece in a little, dark-brown paper cup and then wrap the 24 pieces in a beautiful gift box. On the top of the box she would tie the small bag of gold coins. In the Spirit of Christmas I would allow each of my 3 brothers one piece and then that ‘good works’ would fly out the window as I threatened them with death if the touched another piece.
Merry Christmas, my dear, to you and yours.
What a beautiful child. Did gramma’ give that little girl a cream puff? That’s part of the job description, right? To put that look of sublime joy on another persons face (with a bakery confection!) is a miracle; go forth in the spirit of Christmas and stock up on cream puffs. 🙂
My daughter was a chocoholic when she was young. After having Julia, she lost her taste for sweets–including chocolate. She rarely eats desserts now. I wish I could lose my sweet tooth.
Also wanted to say your granddaughter is adorable! My grandson inherited my love for chocolate, my two granddaughters could take it or leave it, as well as my four children, strange huh, lol.
Back in my childhood, long ago, we opened our advent calenders that my Oma sent us from Germany, with the little door that held the German chocolate coin, daily after breakfast. When my own children were growing up we bought the advent calendars in a gift shop that carried German chocolates. Nowadays, my favorite chocolate is Belgian, followed by Godiva, the darker the better, liqueur filled, nutty, truffles, and a cup of excellent creamy coffee and whoosh I’m off to my happy place. Growing up in a European family, our Christmas tree went up on Christmas Eve day and we weren’t allowed to see it until just before going to church services. My mother hung German chocolates wrapped in silvery paper with fringed ends, sent to us by my Oma from Germany on the tree. German chocolate is almost as good as Belgian, or Dutch, IMO. After church, presents would be opened and the silver wrapped chocolates dissapeared before the night was over and we children were sent to bed. On Christmas day the chocolate butter cream frosted hazelnut torte my mother baked was served after dinner. I have tried to replicate that torte and have come close, but not quite hit it.
Who doesn’t love Chocolate?! I do remember those gold foil chocolate coins when I was growing up.
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