St Valentine's Day

Celebrating Love

There are a lot of funny, in part strange things connected with this romantic holiday, but what is evident, that it is still alive in the hearts of millions of people from all the parts of the world! This old and historic phrase "From your Valentine", a phrase that has lived on, much to the delight of modern day florists, rose growers and card companies and of course the loved ones


By EVGENIYA DONCHENKO
from Kiev, UKRAINE


On February 14, countries all around the world celebrate St Valentine's Day or St. Valenini's Day as they would say it in Italian. Ever since St. Valentine died on February 14, 269 AD, people have been giving their loved ones Valentines and roses and other things to show their feelings toward them. They do that because of what Valentine did. Some people believe that when Valentine died, he left a note to the jail keeper's daughter which was signed, "Your Valentine". People have been doing that since then-- once they knew that St. Valentine had done it.

Different authorities believe Valentine's Day began in various ways. Some trace it to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. Other experts connect the event with one or more saints of the early Christian church. Still others link it with an old English belief that birds choose their mates on February 14. Valentine's Day probably came from a combination of all three of those sources--plus the belief that spring is a time for lovers.

The early Christian church had at least two saints named Valentine. The one story, we have already mentioned, according to that story, the Roman Emperor Claudius II in the A.D. 200's forbade young men to marry. The emperor thought single men made better soldiers. A priest named Valentine disobeyed the emperor's order and secretly married young couples. Another story says Valentine was an early Christian who made friends with many children. The Romans imprisoned him because he refused to worship their gods.

St. Valentine around the world

Thanks to a concentrated marketing effort, Valentine's Day has emerged in Japan and Korea as a day on which women, and less commonly men, give candy, chocolate or flowers to people they like. This has become an obligation for many women. Those who work in offices end up giving chocolates to all their male co-workers, sometimes at significant personal expense. This chocolate is known as giri-choko, in Japan, from the words giri (obligation) and choko, a common short version of chokoreto, meaning chocolate. This contrasts with honmei-choko, which is given to a person someone loves or has a strong relationship with.

In Brazil, there is no Valentine's Day. Instead, "Dia dos Namorados" (lit. "Day of the enamored", or "Boyfriend's/Girlfriend's Day") is celebrated on June 12, when couples exchange gifts such as lingerie, chocolates, cards and usually a flower bouquet. This day is chosen probably because it is the day before the Saint Anthony's day, known there as the marriage saint, when many single women perform popular rituals in order to find a good husband (or nowadays, a boyfriend). In Mexico, the "Dia del amor y la amistad" is celebrated similar to Colombia but this one falls on February 14.

In the United States, Miss Esther Howland is given credit for sending the first valentine cards. Commercial valentines were introduced in the 1800's and now the date is very commercialized. The town of Loveland, Colorado, does a large post office business around February 14. In the United States and Canada, children exchange valentines with their friends. In some schools, the children hold a classroom party and put all the valentines into a box they have decorated.

In Great Britain on Valentine's Day Eve, women used to pin four bay leaves to the corners of their pillow and eat eggs with salt replacing the removed yokes. They believed they would then dream of their future husbands. Also, women used to write their lover's names on paper and put them on clay balls which they would drop into the water. They believed that whichever paper came up first, that man would be their future husband.

Germans, Austrians and some Americans who share this tradition give roses, chocolates etc to their wives. In other countries such as Spain, the wives give gifts to the husband while the husband gives flowers to his wife. In Italy, it is a tradition to get engaged on Valentine's Day, February 14. Some shops sell china baskets and cups which are filled with Valentine candies and tied with ribbon which you can give as Valentine presents. In Slovenia, a proverb says that St Valentine brings the keys of roots so on 14th February plants and flowers start to grow. Valentine's Day has been celebrated as the day when the first works in the vineyards and on the fields commence. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Nevertheless, it has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love is traditionally 12 March, the Saint Gregory's day. Another proverb says "Valentin - prvi spomladin" (Valentine first saint of spring), as in some places (especially White Carniola) Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.

In Ukraine, as usual there were a lot flowers, presents, little nice cards, the queues before and on the14th, in order to find all this. Of course, happy faces, smiles, kisses and... there were some extra ordinary things. For example, well-known, in the mass-media "so-called - icon of the orange revolution" Yulia Tymoshenko (former prime-minister of Ukraine) and her Bloc (BYuT) held action 'Maidan's Heart Lives' on Maidan devoted to St. Valentine's Day. In the center of Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) on Maidan all participants formed huge heart, in the middle of which all lovers kissed, There were several hundreds of participants. As it was raining, all participants took red raincoats, flags and calendars in tents with BYuT logo. Even if Kyiv City State Administration did not permit to hold mass meeting on February Kyiv city party organization Batkivshchyna (Motherland) declared about this on Tuesday, they organized this action.

Last, but not least, in Sevastopol the region of Crimea was made a huge sandwich (the weight is about several tones!) with the red and black caviar in the form of heart. This sandwich was taken in the book of recodes and after that was widespread among the couples and loved ones of the city.

As you can see, there are a lot of funny, in part strange things connected with this romantic holiday, but what is evident, that it is still alive in the hearts of millions of people from all the parts of the world! This old and historic phrase "From your Valentine", a phrase that has lived on, much to the delight of modern day florists, rose growers and card companies and of course the loved ones!



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