Thursday, February 14, 2008
Further to a suggestion by Joy of [Norwich Daily Photo], I was invited by Rosita from [Young Voices Project] – a collaboration between BBC Voices and Norwich Mind –, to prepare a post with photos describing how we will be celebrating St. Valentines day in Portugal. Such post, along with several others, would provide many St. Valentine’s Day stories from all over the World that we could share with each other!... Pretty cool, huh?!...
(Photo 1: example of sign at a Shopping Centre warning us to not forget the day…)
I was fascinated not only by the project itself but with the idea! Valentine's Day is in many countries a holiday celebrated on February 14. It is the traditional day on which lovers express their feelings for each other, dating, sending cards or offering candy and flower bouquets.
(Photo 2: example of flower bouquet)
The main idea is to celebrate love and to feel love. But you also have the other side of the Day… a sadder one and never mentioned to in the Media, who only talk about the brighter, colourful and happier side of it. If you are lonely, Valentine's Day can be a real agony, watching happy lovers and hearts and teddy bears everywhere!!
(Photo 3: these bears are nice, though…)
In Portugal we have always celebrated a similar date on June 13th, Day of Saint Anthony of Lisbon (and of Padova, Italy, where he died), the famous marriage saint, to whom single women ask to find them a good husband or a boyfriend.
We recently imported the 14th February, though, which is now knowned as the «Dia dos Namorados» («Boyfriend's/Girlfriend's Day»). People who have boyfriends, girlfriends or that are married usually buy gifts, go out for dinner or for a date, go dancing, etc.
(Photo 4: having dinner by the candlelight can be really romantic)
But the lonely... these ones have to bare the agony of watching hearts everywhere and feel extremely lonesome. Some of them even get sick!... And, if they’re our friends, we must endure their whining all-day-long!... Now, for serious: some people DO get depressed and cry. It’s awful.
(Photo 5: «Let’s think about those who aren’t Loved»)
The exchange of chocolates and flowers is becoming a tradition on Valentine's Day in Portugal as years go by. But, as I previously mentioned, it is not a typical portuguese tradition, having been imported from the United States or maybe the United Kingdom, due to the many American and English people living in Portugal. It has not been celebrated to a large extent, but a lot people take time to eat a romantic dinner with their partner, to send a card to a secret love or give a red rose to their beloved one.
(Photo 6: red roses are nice)
Young Lisbon boys and girls may be seen on this day going out and buying gifts and celebrating. But - alas!- it is not a holiday, so you need go to work!! From flowers, chocolates or marshmallows to a simple card, a teddy bear or even lingerie and jewelry, the gifts vary in accordance with each other’s pockets! But it is not mandatory. Of course that if a boyfriend doesn’t remember the day, he may be subject to a severe punishment! But the opposite will not cause any trouble, as most men don’t even care and are too «macho» around here to admit they welcome any present, anyway… At least some, I don’t know. Finally, some people consider the celebration of this day to be extremely kitsch and even pathetic.
(Photo 7: «No it’s not pathetic», Teddy says…)
Lisbon’s shopping malls and the Media (TV, newspapers, magazines, radio stations) are announcing quizzes and offering suggestions of gifts or surprises, which include many tips, such as: a) Flowers to offer; b) Marriage proposal techniques; c) Presents’ guidance; d) Best gifts with the best prices and discounts; e) Love sentences and expressions to use and to send; f) Best hotels at the best prices or offering discounts; g) Free gifts (v.g., downloading stuff for mobile phones); h) Trips to Paris and to Venice for the quiz winners; i) Free calls and messages; j) Love messages and love poems; and many other tips that will hipnose you and lead you to fall into the trap… They even dare making suggestions in case you are single and with no boyfriend or girlfriend or even a cat or a dog or whatsoever!! Aaaaargggghh!!!..... Many people in Lisbon will also celebrate this date with a trip to Óbidos (a medieval town near Lisbon) for the «Festival of the Chocolate», which will be held from the 14th to 24th February. Lovers will then have a great chocolate experience… Others will go to the cinema or the theatre or to a live music bar.
(Photo 8: heart shaped chocolates…)
Each day should be Valentine’s Day and people should not be subject to this brutal forcing and imposition of a superficial and to a certain extent merely commercialist practise. And, by the way, there is no day for single people… We wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day!!! Love, from Sailor Girl