Today is Valentine’s Day – the day when large part of the world celebrates love. Someplace lovers exchange gifts, chocolates, cards and roses, elsewhere women give men books in return for roses, and if you fall in love in Wales expect to get a lovespoon, on January 25, on St. Dwynwen’s day, because that’s when love parties are held there.
Different part of the World, different traditions. For Orthodox Christians for example, February 14 is the day of the truth and vine. They celebrate the day of their patron saint of gardeners and winegrowers St. Tryphon.
A friend from Russia once told me a story of this saint. He was born in Phrygia, Anatolia, or the Asian part of present Turkey. According to beliefs, ever since he was a child he had healing powers and could help sick people get cured just by looking at them. Once he even helped the daughter of the Roman Emperor Gordian, who was very beautiful but got mentally ill. As a sign of gratitude for his healthy princess the Emperor rewarded St. Tryphon very wealthy but he gave all his gold to the poor and continued living as before, still helping the sick and weak. Decius, the following Emperor after Gordian, wasn’t that keen on Christians, so St. Tryphon was beheaded because he refused to be converted.
Many churches are dedicated to him, he’s the patron saint of Kotor and Moscow, and on February 14 winemakers and gardeners celebrate his name hoping the Saint will help the grapes that year to be sweet, and the barrels full with wine. There’s a Latin saying “In vino veritas” as it was believed nobody could effectively lie when drunk, so this day is also a day of truth.
If you want to celebrate love in Russia on this day, you’ll certainly need to combine it with a glass of red wine and honesty. Sounds perfect, don’t you think? Maybe next year I’ll go visit my Russian friend and have one different kind of Valentine.
How will you celebrate February 14 this year?