Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day Czech Republic

Valentine Mosaic by rainbowella42

Hi Everyone,
Happy Valentine’s Day!  Where did Christmas and January go?  Time is surely flying by in this new year of 2011.  How do you observe the day of love where you live?  Here, in the Czech Republic, Valentine’s Day is a fairly new holiday, one many Czechs view as a foreign import geared toward commercialism more than Love.  Even so, many Prague shops are quietly sporting simple Valentine’s Day decorations, chocolates, and more.  Florists have happily taken up this imported holiday and find themselves very busy with flower orders.  Restaurants have also taken the leap into promoting Valentine’s Day, too.

Valentine's Day First Appearance

Valentine’s Day first began just after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.  Before 1989 and the fall of communism, Valentine’s Day was basically unheard of.  However, Czechs already had a day for lovers in their calendar, May 1st.  May 1st was the day Czechs would take flowers to their lovers, while kissing under a cherry tree to guarantee health in the coming new year.  Another tradition was, and still is, to kiss in front of the statue of Mácha on Petrín Hill.  This is how Czechs customarily celebrated their traditional day for lovers.

I have to say Jiří and I celebrate both holidays.  Jiří prefers May 1st to February 14th, but he does celebrate Valentine’s with me.  I grew up with Valentine’s Day, but in my family, it’s always been a day to show love to all.  We never celebrated with expensive gifts, though Dad would take Mom out for a nice dinner if they could afford it.  There were some lean years when Mom would make a beautiful dinner at home.  And Mom and Dad always remembered my brother and me.  We would receive small stuffed animals and a little chocolate. My elementary classes always held a small Valentine’s Day party when we exchanged small cards and candy.  So, it was a nice day, but my family typically didn’t go overboard in commercializing the holiday.  My whole life I’ve enjoyed this holiday, but it has not been a time to go crazy with expensive gifts and things. 

Being an American who does observe Valentine’s Day in a simple way has made it much easier to fit in with the Czechs, and their view of the holiday.  I can understand why Czechs are typically negative about celebrating Valentine’s Day.  The holiday has become too commercialized.  But, Jiří does celebrate this day with me, and we keep it simple.  This year he’s invited me out for dinner.  We won’t visit any expensive restaurants, and that’s just fine with me.  Just having a time to set apart and spend together is the main importance of this day for us. Our hectic schedules make it difficult to do much together as couple.  Time is a premium commodity in our home, so any reason to set time apart together is celebrated.  And I don’t need diamonds and things.  Jiří and I have found the best blend of celebrating our love on this day, while also celebrating May 1st.  We have learned to blend our world views, on most subjects, including Valentine’s Day and May 1st.  We truly have the best of both worlds.

So, how do you spend Valentine’s Day in your part of the world? 

However you celebrate, and even if you don’t, have a great day!

February 15th Update

Jiří and I did go to supper last night, and while traveling to downtown Prague, I noticed an awful lot of men at florist's, jeweler's shops and even in Tesco buying chocolate and flowers.  Isn't this very funny when Czechs supposedly don't like Valentine's Day?  My husband was very funny when I brought this up as all the evidence, even for a scientist, was proving Czechs do, in fact, celebrate Valentine's Day.  Jiří's explanation was that all those Czech guys have foreign wives and girl friends.  He was being funny!  All those men did not have foreign wives and sweet hearts--they have Czech wives and sweethearts.  The evidence proves Czechs do remember their lovers on Valentine's Day, and this probably occurs in higher numbers in the bigger cities here--Prague, Brno, and a couple of others.   Outside of these areas not many Czechs will celebrate Valentine's.  It's great they will take a little time to remember their sweethearts.

God bless,

(c) 2011 by Sher Vacik.  All rights reserved.

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