Nothing is really known about the third century Roman Saint, Valentine, other than his name and the fact that he died on February 14th. Some say Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday, Lupercalia. Others believe in the legend that St. Valentine refused to sacrifice to pagan gods and was thus imprisoned. He gave his testimony in prison and before his head was cut off, he restored sight to Julia, the pretty, blind daughter of his jailer. On the day of his execution he left her a note that was signed “From Your Valentine.”
There are some interesting Valentine’s Day traditions around the world. (I’m not sure how true these are so please feel free to correct or confirm these!)
In Denmark and Norway, men send weird little poems, called “Gaekkebrev”, to women anonymously on Valentine’s Day, giving them only a clue as to the number of letters in the senders name, represented by a dot for each letter. The recipient must then guess who sent her the card. If she guesses correctly she wins an Easter Egg on Easter (?) and if she guesses incorrectly, she owes him an egg instead on Easter (WTF).
In Finland, Valentine’s Day is more a celebration of friendship rather than a romantic love. February 14th is called “Ystävän Päivä” in Finnish, which literally translates to “Friend’s Day”. People exchange cards & gifts among friends with the greeting of “Happy Friends Day”. It is however, a popular day to get engaged.
In Japan, it is traditional for women to spoil the men in their lives, rather than the other way around. (I’m not sure how I feel about this one…)
South Koreans appear to be a romantic bunch and have practically marked the 14th of every month to signify some sort of ‘Love’ related day. On April 14th, known as “Black Day”, those who didn’t get anything on February or March 14th meet up with their other single friends and eat noodles with black bean sauce, either to celebrate being single or to mourn their loneliness… it’s hard to say.
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, and whether you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, what better way to say “I love you” than with freshly baked Chocolate Banana Bread? It also happens to be super healthy, naturally sweetened, and gluten free.
Healthy Chocolate Banana Bread
Adapted from Luar + Wolffdene
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/4 cup chopped dates
4-5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 free-range egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp raw cacao (or cocoa) powder
cacao nibs, for topping
Preheat oven to 150 C. In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, raising agents, cinnamon, salt and dates, and mix well. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and add in the egg and vanilla.
Now add the banana mixture to the dry mixture and combine until it forms a sticky dough. Fold the batter into a greased loaf tin, and sprinkle the cacao nibs on top.
Bake for 55-60 minutes until it has risen, is wonderfully golden and smells like chocolate banana heaven (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow the banana bread to cool completely before cutting it up into slices. Enjoy with a thin layer of tahini (if you’re me) or a thick layer of organic butter (if you’re my boyfriend).
Happy Valentine’s Day!