Who doesn’t love seeing their child’s face light up on Dec 1st when they at last get to open the first door of their advent calendar and eat their first advent chocolate.
Chocolate calendars are everywhere, from adult versions containing alcohol-infused chocolate to full-blown Disney-fied confections and Cadbury’s 2 for 1 offers must be at least partly responsible for the stat that claims there now averages one chocolate calendar per household. It just shows you the combined power of chocolate and marketing as, according to Christian doctrine, Advent is actually a time of fasting and contemplation as we wait for the coming of Jesus.
The Yule Log is another tradition that has been overtaken by chocolate. Back in the middle ages it was common practice to bring in a “Yule log” which would burn on an open fire for the whole 12 days of Christmas and be a backdrop to all the celebrations. With the move towards closed fires and then central heating, bringing in half a tree to burn in a fireplace became impractical so, again, chocolate to the rescue! We now buy or make a chocolate sponge cake in the shape of a log which, while it is unlikely to last for 12 days (particularly if you use Gemini Chocolate bars to make it) will definitely bring you good luck in the festive period.
Chocolate is also a big part of Filipino celebrations as a chocolate drink is often part of Noche Buena, the big family meal that takes place after midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Tsokolate is made from cocoa and peanut discs or balls, dissolved in hot frothy milk, and whisked using a ‘batidor.’ It creates a wonderfully thick and creamy drink that starts the Christmas festivities.
In Austria the feast of St Nicholas marks the beginning of Christmas. St Nick is known as the original inspiration for the jolly fellow known as Santa Claus as he helped the needy by leaving anonymous gifts. Now the patron saint of children, many nations celebrate his day on December 6th and in Austria the family come together for a traditional meal of fish followed by chocolate desserts, ranging from the famous Sachertorte to chocolate cream and pastry confections. We wonder what they would be like if we made them with our raw chocolate!
Our fifth tradition brings us right up to the present day with a ritual of Santa, chocolate and pyjamas created by Tom Hanks’ The Polar Express. In the film children travel on the magical midnight train to meet Santa and have hot chocolate in their jim-jams, and right here in the North East that’s become a special treat for our own children over the last few years as they re-enact the famous scenes on their way to Santa’s Grotto.
For 2017 we’re hoping to help a few families start their own traditions using our indulgent and yet healthy raw chocolate. Whether it’s making cakes, melting a bar down for dipping fruit, or simply having a sneaky chocolate feast after the kids have gone to bed, we’d love to hear how Gemini has made its way into your Christmas this year.