Valentine’s Day in Russia – Love It or Really Love It Posted by yelena on Feb 14, 2012 in Culture, News, Russian life
Do you like celebrating Valentine’s Day? If so, then I bet you had everything prepared days ahead – цветы (flowers), шоколад (chocolate), шампанское (Champaign), and, of course, a romantic валентинка (Valentine’s Day card). And if you don’t like this holiday, then you are probably too busy doing all the last-minute shopping to read this post.
День святого Валентина (Valentine’s Day) is a relatively recent addition to Russia’s long list of holidays worth celebrating. Back in the (not so distant) days of my youth, we had no such holiday and instead saved all the card-making and flower-buying for 8 марта (March 8th, Women’s Day).
So I am both amazed and amused by энтузиазм (the enthusiasm) with which Russians now отмечают этот праздник (are celebrating this holiday; lit. marking this holiday). Consider this article in Комсомольская Правда (Komsomolskaya Pravda). Turns out, в Петербурге в день всех влюблённых откроется пункт регистрации вечной любви (a Center for Registration of eternal love will open up in St. Petersburg on Valentine’s Day).
What’s the deal here? Ok, apparently, влюблённая пара (a couple in love) will be able to profess their deep and eternal love for each other in романтическая атмосфера (a romantic setting) complete with розовые воздушные шары (pink balloons), цветы (flowers) and ангелочки (little angels), the latter presumably pictures or статуэтки (figurines). And since no love is official without some form of документация (paperwork), an official certificate will be issued at the end of a ceremony. With love thus documented, couples can proceed to чаепитие (tea drinking).
Here’s something else I learned from the same article. For those wanting to get married instead of all this silly eternal love business, some restaurants will offer венчание по-американски (American-style wedding). And by American-style, they mean по-лас-вегасски (Las Vegas-style). That’s right. Imagine this – while you are waiting for your романтический ужин (romantic dinner), you can surprise your date with a real wedding ceremony complete with алтарь (an altar), пастор (pastor) live from Las Vegas via Skype, кольца (wedding bands), букет невесты (bridal bouquet), фата (bridal veil), живые бабочки (live butterflies) and Элвис Пресли (Elvis Presley) and Мерилин Монро (Marilyn Monroe) as witnesses. And, a few days after the ceremony, you will even get свидетельство о браке (a marriage certificate), exactly like the ones issued in Nevada.
Of course, that’s all fine and dandy if you are in St. Petersburg. But turns out, Екатеринбург (Yekaterinburg) is not a bad place either if you want your Valentine’s Day to be weird. Their plans include массовая прогулка по набережной (a group stroll along an embankment) and массовый флешмоб поцелуй (a group flash-mob kiss). Just to clarify this last one – couples are invited to start kissing during the song from the movie Titanic. For something a bit more mainstream, Yekat will also offer festive ice-skating and decorating trees with paper hearts. And although любовь греет (love keeps you warm), participants will be invited to warm up with a traditional чаепитие (tea drinking).
If you don’t like this holiday (or what’s become of it), then you better spend it in my native Волгоград (Volgograd). Sure, they will also have a kissing flash mob and a film festival. But one of the local churches is organizing a youth встреча (gathering) called Антивалентин (Anti-valentine) where such things as кризис любви (crisis of love) and любовь в поэзии (love in poetry) will be discussed and Catholic and Orthodox Christian saints will be compared. This gathering will conclude with, what else, чаепитие (tea drinking).
But since most of us are not in Russia on this holiday (next year, right?), maybe we can sign our Valentine’s Day cards with a simple «Я тебя люблю!» (I love you!) or a fancier «Ты всегда в моём сердце» (You are always in my heart). Then put a kettle on the stove, open a box of chocolates and sit down to чаепитие with your loved one.
P.S. As a tribute to the holiday, please post a line from a Russian poem about love. You don’t have to translate it, but if you do know the author and the title, please include that.
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