June 12, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greek version of Valentine’s Day

February 14 is Valentine’s Day, which is traditionally celebrated by couples in love in almost all countries of the world.

In Greece, Saint Valentine is not mentioned in the Orthodox calendar. Naturally, the Orthodox Church never recognized this saint. “This saint does not exist for us. This is a fantasy of Western origin,” believe churchgoers. The Roman Catholic Church does not officially hold any special holiday services on Valentine’s Day, considering its celebration a folk and not a church tradition.

When, however, a “foreign saint” somehow quietly infiltrated the Christian life of the Greeks, this day was secretly declared as a “secular holiday” and Valentine’s Day (in the late 70s). As is commonly believed, flower growers and florists who were the first to understand how to make money on it “helped” the active introduction of the holiday.

It is known that on the eve of the holiday and on the holiday itself, the turnover of flower shops increases sharply, despite the fact that prices for flowers and bouquets increase significantly (up to 50%).

In 2000, Archbishop Christodoulos, seeking to attract young people to the Church, proposed that the celebration of Valentine’s Day be celebrated on February 13, the day when Orthodoxy honors the memory of the Apostles Aquila and Priscilla (Αποστόλων Ακύλα και Πρίσκιλλας).

There is also a third “Greek version” of why Valentine’s Day should be celebrated. Fans of myths believe that on February 14 it is necessary to honor the memory of faithful Penelope, who waited for Odysseus for 20 years.

Legends of Saint Valentine
In the late Middle Ages in France and England, the life of St. Valentina gradually began to acquire legends associated with the secret wedding of couples in love. According to the Golden Legend, in those distant and dark times, the powerful and cruel Roman Emperor Claudius II came to the idea that a single man, not burdened with a wife and family, would be better off fighting on the battlefield for the glory of Caesar, and forbade men to marry, and women and girls – marry the men you love. And Saint Valentine was an ordinary field doctor and priest who sympathized with unhappy lovers and secretly from everyone, under the cover of darkness, sanctified the marriage of loving men and women. Soon the activities of Saint Valentine became known to the authorities, and he was put in prison and sentenced to death. In conclusion, Saint Valentine met the warden’s beautiful daughter, Julia. Before his death, a priest in love wrote a declaration of love to his beloved girl – a Valentine card, where he told about his love, and signed it “Your Valentine.” It was read after he was executed, and the execution itself took place on February 14, 269.

Greek version of Valentine's Day

According to another legend, the Roman patrician Valentine, who was a secret Christian and also converted his servants to the new faith, once performed a wedding ceremony for two of them. By denunciation or by coincidence, all three were detained by guards. Valentine, as a person belonging to the upper class, could escape death, but not his servants. Then, wanting to encourage his doomed co-religionists, Valentin writes them letters in the form of red hearts, signifying Christian love. A blind girl was supposed to deliver the message to the newlyweds, but suddenly Valentin himself came to the dungeons and persuaded the guards to release his servants in exchange for his life. Before entering the arena of death, Valentin handed over the last letter, consecrated by faith and kindness, to a blind girl, who after that received her sight and became a beauty.

In 1840, it became customary to exchange small gifts – valentines (Valentine cards in the shape of a scarlet heart are well known as a symbolic gift on Valentine’s Day). The celebration later spread to America. Valentine’s business has peaked in the past few years.

The market is flooded with gifts for lovers for every taste and budget: cards, bouquets, chocolates, manufactured goods, toys, souvenirs and the jewelry industry receive fabulous income thanks to Valentin.

Valentine’s Day trade in the United States alone exceeded $15 billion in 2010, equivalent to the GDP of Botswana.

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But this holiday is not celebrated everywhere. In India, fanatical Hindus and Muslims oppose the holiday. They view Valentine’s Day as a product of globalization. In Pakistan, a local Islamic party is calling for the holiday to be cancelled, claiming it is “against Islamic culture”. Conservative circles in theocratic Iran have the same point of view.

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