Shannon Brady
Writer & Editor

Valentine’s Day is observed annually on February 14, which this year falls on a Wednesday. It’s the celebration of lovers and an occasion where romantic partners show one another how much they care for them with gifts, cards, and special attention. (See our previous article on Valentine’s Day for more information about the holiday’s history and customs.)

Two of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts exchanged, to the point where the pair becomes almost synonymous with the holiday, are flowers and chocolate. But how did these presents become so popular?

Any type of flowers may be given on Valentine’s Day, depending on the recipient’s preferences. However, by far the most popular choice of flowers is roses, specifically red ones. Starting from fads in Victorian England, they have come to symbolize passionate, romantic love in multiple cultures’ flower languages. (Pink roses and tulips, other popular choices, symbolize affection and perfect love, respectively. 

It is often stated as a scientific fact that chocolate triggers the same chemical reaction in the brain as falling in love. Part of this is true; chocolate contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the brain form serotonin, the neurotransmitter that influences happiness; phenylethylalanine, which increases heart rate and alertness and acts as a natural antidepressant; and theobromine, which relaxes the body.

(Incidentally, theobromine is also the chemical that makes chocolate poisonous to dogs.)

Technically, all of these components would mimic the physical sensation of falling in love if consumed. However, other research suggests that they are digested too quickly to actually reach the brain and cause that effect in the first place. The most likely answer? Eating something sweet and delicious simply makes you happy in and of itself

Though it’s always been a tasty treat, assortments of chocolates in heart-shaped boxes (often shaped like hearts themselves) being exchanged for Valentine’s Day also began as a fad in the Victorian Era of England. Richard Cadbury, owner of the Cadbury chocolate company, capitalized on the public’s love of elaborate courting rituals to sell not only a greater variety of chocolates, but market them in fancy boxes, sturdy and good-looking enough to be kept instead of discarded.

Almost two hundred years later, many couples still enjoy presenting their partners with carefully selected flowers and chocolates to enjoy on Valentine’s Day!

If you have any questions or concerns, always feel free to contact Stay safe and healthy!