Why chocolate coins at Christmas?
You may see chocolate coins for sale at your favorite chocolatier around the holidays. Chocolate coins are a fun gift for kids. They are fun to open, fun to eat, and all-around a sweet treat. Have you ever wondered why chocolate coins are given out around the holidays?
You may be surprised to learn that giving children chocolate coins around the holidays is a tradition that started in the 16th century. This tradition began shortly after chocolate was introduced to Europe. Legend has it the tradition of giving chocolate coins was inspired by the deeds of Saint Nicholas in the fourth century.
Chocolate coins are also a mainstay of Saint Nicholas Day or the Feast of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated on December 6th in western countries and December 19th in eastern countries. Saint Nicholas Day is a Christian holiday and festival in Europe, especially in Germany and Poland, which often corresponds to attending Mass. The Celebrations centers around Saint Nicholas's reputation as a bringer of gifts, and Chocolate coins were given out as a festive way for everyone to partake.
In the United States, Saint Nicholas Day has less of a festival pressece. In cities with German influences, children celebrate by putting their shoes by the fireplace or the front door on the night of December 5th to find them full of chocolate coins or other treats on December 6th.
Those celebrating Christmas are not the only ones with the tradition of giving out chocolate coins. In the Jewish tradition of giving Hanukkah gelt, which translates to Hanukkah money began in the 17th century is still going strong. Jewish parents give Gelt to children to play dreidel.
In the 1920s American chocolatiers picked up on the Chocolate Coin / Gelt concept and began producing them in large quantities for widespread distribution. You may have seen them in mesh bags. There are both Gelt and Chocolate coins widely available in the united states. Pick up a few and keep the traditions going for another century.