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Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Here are some pretty photos that remind me of Valentine's Day and also a bit of history on how it is observed in the various countries in Europe.  Enjoy!

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Something warm to drink

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While sending cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts is traditional in the UK, Valentine's Day has various regional customs. In Norfolk, a character called 'Jack' Valentine knocks on the rear door of houses leaving sweets and presents for children. Although he was leaving treats, many children were scared of this mystical person. In Wales, many people celebrate Dydd Santes Dwynwen (St Dwynwen's Day) on January 25 instead of (or as well as) Valentine's Day. The day commemorates St Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers.

In France, a traditionally Catholic country, Valentine's Day is known simply as "Saint Valentin", and is celebrated in much the same way as other western countries.

In Spain Valentine's Day is known as "San Valentín" and is celebrated the same way as in the UK, although in Catalonia it is largely superseded by similar festivities of rose and/or book giving on La Diada de Sant Jordi (Saint George's Day).

In Portugal it is more commonly referred to as "Dia dos Namorados" (Lover's Day / Day of those that are in love with each other).

In Denmark and Norway, although February 14 is known as Valentinsdag, it is not celebrated to a large extent, but is largely imported from American culture, and some people take time to eat a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their loved one. The cut-flower industry in particular is still working on promoting the holiday.

In Sweden it is called Alla hjärtans dag ("All Hearts' Day") and was launched in the 1960s by the flower industry's commercial interests, and due to the influence of American culture. It is not an official holiday, but its celebration is recognized and sales of cosmetics and flowers for this holiday are only exceeded by those for Mother's Day.

In Finland Valentine's Day is called Ystävänpäivä which translates into "Friend's Day". As the name indicates, this day is more about remembering all your friends, not only your loved ones. In Estonia Valentine's Day is called Sõbrapäev, which has the same meaning.

In Slovenia, St Valentine or Zdravko was one of the saints of spring, the saint of good health and the patron of beekeepers and pilgrims.[62] A proverb says that "St Valentine brings the keys of roots". Plants and flowers start to grow on this day. It has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences. It is also said that birds propose to each other or marry on that day. Another proverb says "Valentin – prvi spomladin" ("Valentine — the first spring saint"), as in some places (especially White Carniola), Saint Valentine marks the beginning of spring.[63] Valentine's Day has only recently been celebrated as the day of love. The day of love was traditionally March 12, the Saint Gregory's day, or February 22, Saint Vincent's Day. The patron of love was Saint Anthony, whose day has been celebrated on 13 June.[62]

In Romania, the traditional holiday for lovers is Dragobete, which is celebrated on February 24. It is named after a character from Romanian folklore who was supposed to be the son of Baba Dochia. Part of his name is the word drag ("dear"), which can also be found in the word dragoste ("love"). In recent years, Romania has also started celebrating Valentine's Day, despite already having Dragobete as a traditional holiday. This has drawn backlash from several groups, institutions[64] and nationalist organizations like Noua Dreaptǎ, who condemn Valentine's Day for being superficial, commercialist and imported Western kitsch.

Valentine's Day is called Ημέρα του Αγίου Βαλεντίνου in Greece and Cyprus, which translates into "St Valentines day". In the Orthodox church there is another Saint[which?] to protect people who are in love, but for Greeks Valentine's Day is more popular.

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Wishing each and every one of you a very special and happy Valentine's Day! Don't forget to kiss your sweetie!  :)
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