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What’s so special about today?

14 February 2008

Find your favorite phrased Sweet Heart, purchase your bundle of overpriced roses, and smooch it up with the one you love.

It is the 14th of February- aka Valentine’s Day.  Aren’t we all excited?!

This capitalistic, commercial driven, forced love day is a product of US American culture that has only recently made its way into the Czech Republic.  Actually, this morning was the first time I saw any mention of it as I walked past a clothing boutique that prominently displayed red shirts and skirts with some hearts dangling around it all.  Otherwise, Valentine’s Day is relatively little known here.  In fact, one of my students told me how it has only been celebrated or acknowledged since the late 90’s as a result of international stores like Tesco introducing and marketing cards and candies for purchase for this specific date.

Very few of my students acknowledge this holiday and instead choose to shower their loved one with love on May 1st-  aka National Love Day.

It goes that one this day, lovers flock to the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha, the Czech Romantic “poet of love” located in Petřín Park and kiss under the blossoming cherry trees.  This is a surefire way to protect and strengthen the love between two people.  However, if you don’t participate in this Love Day, one of Anna’s students told her, you will go “dry.”  

May 1st thusly represents all that is good and loving.  Yet, I was warned this is not a month that one should marry.  While it is good for the relationship, it is believed that to be married during this time is imminent cause for divorce shortly thereafter.

Mácha wrote a lovely poem that has become an iconic symbol of National Love Day on May 1st.  If you are struggling for what to write in the card for your loved one, then maybe you can steal some verses from this poem titled Máj (May):

Late evening, on the first of May—
The twilit May—the time of love.
Meltingly called the turtle-dove,
Where rich and sweet pinewoods lay.
Whispered of love the mosses frail,
The flowering tree as sweetly lied,
The rose’s fragrant sigh replied
To love-songs of the nightingale.
In shadowy woods the burnished lake
Darkly complained a secret pain,
By circling shores embraced again;
And heaven’s clear sun leaned down to take
A road astray in azure deeps,
Like burning tears the lover weeps. 

This is quite the  long poem/tragic love story.  If you are a true romantic at heart then you can read it all here.



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