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St. Valentine’s Day in Czech Republic

The Day of St. Valentine as a celebration of love doesn’t have a long tradition in the Czech Republic, although nowadays, it’s as popular with young people in love as it is with merchants.

Not so long ago, Czech flower shops made their largest sales at the end of the school year as it was (and still is) customary to bring teachers bouquets as a thank you. Nowadays, some of the largest flower sales are on February 14, St. Valentine’s Day. And not just flowers, chocolate and gift shops also wait for this day to make some profit.

Who was St. Valentine

valentineAs Alena Vondrušková, Czech folklorist and writer, says, we do not know which martyr called Valentine is the one we celebrate on this day, as there were several of this name. The one this tradition is usually ascribed to is the 3rd century Roman priest and doctor who martyred and buried in Via Flaminia, Italy, on February 14.

Another figure sometimes considered as the one St. Valentine is a bishop from Terni near Rome, however, as the date he was martyred is also February 14, it is probable that it is the same person.

The tales of St. Valentine tell the stories about his deeds such as curing the blind and epileptic, advocating for men staying with their wives instead of going to war or marrying Christians secretly.

Although the grave of St. Valentine is in Italy, one of his shoulder blades was found in a reliquary in Prague’s Vyšehrad and it’s the only surviving part of his remains.

Day of All People in Love

Some people consider the origins for St. Valentine’s Day being the day of people in love the celebration called lupercalia or februa observed in Ancient Rome, others say that the roots are in the 15th century celebrations organized by the French prostitutes who made it their custom to bring the king a flower bouquet to the king on St. Valentine’s Day. Many prostitutes were transported to the “New World” in Northern America after the French Revolution and brought the St. Valentine’s celebrations with them. From there, the custom came gradually back to Europe and ultimately, to the Czech Republic.

“Your Valentine”

As the legend says, the jailer’s daughter fell in love with the imprisoned St. Valentine who left her a note that finished with the words “with love, Your Valentine”. That is why today, some people send anonymous Valentines signed with this name. Although some Valentine cards that survived until today, come from the 16th century, it wasn’t until the 18th century that they became widely popular. They were not paper cards at first though, but rather engraved and colored copper plaques, later also wooden plaques and lithographies, always with symbols such as doves, flowers or arrow-pierced hearts.

Since the St. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have a long tradition in the Czech Republic, there are no deep-rooted customs and traditions and the Czech people celebrate this day like people in many other countries, with romantic gifts, cards, dinners…however there are many people who do not celebrate at all.


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