Although the majority of people in the Czech Republic celebrate love on 1st May, 14th February is a recognised holiday, too - the feast of St. Valentine. So much so that in February, predominantly men spend on luxury flowers up to twice more than in May, that is on traditional holiday dedicated to lovers.
Everything is shrouded in two legends that perhaps link the lives of two same-named saints. One tells that a man named Valentine himself (according to most historians this was probably the bishop of Terni, who lived in the third century - Note of the editor) in spite of the ban on the emperor, Marcus Aurelius Claudius called Germanicus, secretly married couples who were in love. He fell from grace and on the 14th February the emperor had him executed since he disobeyed his orders to cancel all marriages.
The second legend says that St. Valentine had healing powers for which Roman senators accused him of unclean practices. In honour of the Italian priest 14th February started to be celebrate.
The feast of those in love; however, reaches long into the past. In Ancient Rome the day of the goddess Juno and pasture god Luper had been celebrated. Both were defenders of marriage in pagan mythology. Therefore, many disregard St Valentine's Day, because they have a feeling that it is a public holiday imported from the West, but in fact it has genuinely European roots.
Renewal of the holiday of lovers in the spirit of luxury commerce took place in the USA only at the beginning of the twentieth century, specifically in 1907. A well-known producer of Christmas cards and postcard publisher, Walter Scott, found himself on the verge of bankruptcy. So he thought up several luxury cards from which the Valentine's really caught on; people exchanged them, and not only because of love for the partner, but also between relatives or friends. That holiday is becoming increasingly popular year on year around the whole world, where the main driving force, more than love itself, is the fact that traders´ revenues on this day are several times higher.
However the story, the name of Valentine itself originates from the Latin word ´valens´ which stands for strong. Of similar meaning are also the names Valerián, Valerie, Válerie, Valntýna and are symbols of love, health and strength. Famous bearers of this name may be found predominantly in Italy; for example the motorcycle racer Valentino Rossi, fashion designer of luxury clothing Valentino Clemente Ludvico Garavan, etc. In Bohemia then there is a fashion designer Valentina Armandi and Valentina is also the name of the daughter of actress Sabina Laurinová and singer Josef Vojtek.
May celebrations are one of the longest Czech traditions, full of festivities, the building of a maypole and student celebration called ´Majáles´ here. In the capital city of Prague then the statue of the poet, Karel Hynek Mácha is covered by flowers. A walk to the Petřín Hill with a kiss under a blossoming cherry tree is almost obligatory, since a girl that is not kissed in the first of May withers away within a year. A tree in flower is a symbol of fertility. First of May has been associated with love since time immemorial and as far back as in ancient Rome it was celebrate under the name Floralia and was dedicated to Flora, goddess of spring and fertility. On that day the Celts celebrated Baltaine, that is a feast of fertility; similarly to the Germanic feast of the goddess Walpurgis. May Day is also associated with celebrations of Labour Day which in 1889, on a proposal of French Socialists, became an official public holiday.
Fertility, joy, love or anything that may be associated with those words should be enjoyed all year round without analysing whether it is more suitable to celebrate what it stands for on St. Valentine's Day on February 14th, or on the first of May.