History of the holiday
This international holiday inspired people to create their own traditions — whether on the personal level or on the national one. For instance, the custom of sending Valentine's Day cards originated in the Middle Ages. The very first Valentine card was sent from the Tower of London in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife. The custom lived forth, and became especially popular in England in the 18th century — lovers made postcards from colorful paper and signed them with colorful ink. Italians call February 14 a "sweet day" and give sweets as a present. Valentine cards are sent by mail in pinks envelopes without a return address. In Denmark lovers usually send dried white flowers to each other, while in Japan on Valentine's Day male colleagues and classmates are given chocolate.
In Ukraine Saint Valentine's Day as a holiday for the lovers is relatively new, nevertheless, it’s quite popular and massive. The celebrations of the day gained its popularity at the end of the 20th century — the 1990s were the time the country was finally filled with Valentine's cards and sweet gifts like chocolate decorated specially for the occasion. On this day in all cities of Ukraine, it is customary to give flowers, especially red, since this color symbolizes love and passion.
Another romantic tradition is a marriage proposal, usually made in an intimate atmosphere of the dim-lit restaurant or the couple's 'special' spot in the city. Female colleagues, as well as the schoolgirls, are usually given flowers and chocolate even as a friendly gesture. It is customary to write in Valentine's card which intentions the gift-giver indicated by the present. Moreover, single girls take part in the holiday too — they exchange presents with their friends and go out to celebrate the day.
The perk of Saint Valentine's season is enjoying all the classic winter going out occasions - including ice skating. One of the most popular and romantic locations for ice skating for couples is Expocenter of Ukraine located near the Vystavkovyi Tsentr metro station. In the daytime, it is decorated with numerous multi-colored stripes and it glimmers with lights in the evening.
The admission to Expocenter of Ukraine is free. As for the complex ticket to Zymova Kraina ("The Winter Country") entertainment park, it costs UAH 390 and includes admission to the ice rink, tubing slides, the Castle of ice sculptures and much more. “The Winter Country” will be opened up to March 10.
The traditional and unbeatable option of celebrating Saint Valentine's Day is a dinner for two in a nice restaurant. Kyiv is full of high-class venues that can satisfy any taste. For instance, one of the best French cuisine restaurants in Kyiv, Citronelle, offers to enjoy the Provence dinner - oysters and wine. Located right near the Kyiv Opera House, this venue is often filled with couples. Gillardeau oysters from Bretagne served in 6 or 12 are the most popular pick. Citronelle’s sommeliers will help to find a bottle of perfect wine to match the dish and your taste. Besides, the restaurant offers a glass of sparkling wine for everyone who presents a ticket for a play in the nearby theaters.
Restaurants with a view of Kyiv downtown also are in high demand on February 14. One of the most well-known is Bar on 8 located in the Hyatt Regency Hotel near Sofiiska Square. The famous bar terrace opens a view on the golden-domed St. Michael's Monastery, the St. Sophia Cathedral bell tower and a vista of downtown Kyiv. The view is especially charming at night, lit up by the city lights. Bar on 8 mainly focuses on cocktails, be it an international classic or local signatures. Guests can also enjoy a broad wine list that includes wines from different regions of the world. The menu specialty is dishes prepared in a tandoor oven, popular in the Middle East, India and the Balkans.
Enjoying live music
Numerous restaurants and bars in Kyiv traditionally prepare a festive live music program for Saint Valentine's Day. Some of the most popular ones astonish and shine with the lively Latin American rhythms - like Habana, EscoBar and Buena Vista.
In 2019, dwellers of Kyiv also have a chance to celebrate Saint Valentine's Day with multiple award-nominees Years & Years. The loud name in the world of synth-pop, Years & Years became increasingly popular when their single King appeared in the world music charts. The electronic melodies with the intense voice of lead singer Olly Alexander gained the band four nominations for BRIT Awards. The concert in Kyiv's Stereo Plaza will take place on the Saint Valentine's Day when the band will perform biggest hits and songs from the new album, Palo Santo. Tickets are available on concert.ua and similar booking services.
As a city of raves and rising party culture, Kyiv can't miss the occasion to light up the night. Dwellers of the capital especially enjoy Mur Mur with its energizing dances, interesting conversations and tasty cocktails on a large terrace with beautiful panoramic view over Kyiv. The venue regularly updates its Facebook page, adding a new schedule of upcoming events with top DJs and unusual concepts. The guests appreciate Mur Mur not just for great parties, but also for stylish design, vinyl records library, vegan and vegetarian dishes.
CHI restaurant is another local favorite to party in Kyiv. This place is perfect for those who prefer spending the night in luxury interior while listening to modern music and enjoying unusual Oriental cuisine. The restaurant impresses with its Colonial style design that includes elements of loft and art deco; unique signature cocktails from bartender Karolis Urbonavichus; lounge zone for relaxation; and, of course, special large zone for partying and dances. The restaurant regularly hosts thematic parties, presentations, concerts and performances featuring well-known personalities of Kyiv elite.
Going on a trip
The most romantic holiday of the year can become a nice reason to book a weekend getaway. We previously wrote about the best tourist destinations from Kyiv. Thanks to multiple new flights launched in 2018, Ukrainians and expats can enjoy convenient access to cities in Germany, Portugal, Poland, Italy, Lithuania, Austria as well as several sea resorts.
Besides, there's much to see in Ukraine: for instance, Lviv is traditionally one of the most booked destinations for Saint Valentine's Day. Western Ukraine has numerous small cities with a European vibe like Chernivtsi or a traditional Ukrainian spirit like Kolomyia. Exploring stand-alone sightseeing is also interesting - for instance, the famous fairytale-like Kamianets-Podilskyi castle or Pidhirtsi Castle near Lviv.
If the traditional celebration of Saint Valentine's doesn't look especially inviting, maybe it's high time to add some spice - for instance, by visiting BarBoss. It is the first Kyiv BDSM-themed bar with relevant interior elements - lashes, hooks in the ceiling for hanging, and a special spreader bar. The most curious souls can experiment with the equipment right on spot, adding a bit of spice to the nightlife experience in Ukraine. The bar has developed a menu that includes beer, cider, liquors and more «adventurous» drinks like gin, tequila, whiskey and rum. The cocktail list has classics as well as place’s specials: Pleasure, Crazy dog, and Uncle John. BarBoss also has three thematic cocktails, «Safe», «Sane» and «Consensual», which are in line with main BDSM principles.
Coyote Ugly Saloon is another spicy suggestion for Saint Valentine's 2019 in Kyiv. The saloon was originally founded in 1993 in New York. More than 20 years later, the saloon grew into a chain of locations all over the world. Now, it is one of the bars in Kyiv that regularly attracts customers no matter the season. It's also among the popular spots to organize bachelor parties mostly thanks to the unique option on the menu - body shots. Saloon's waitresses serve various kinds of strong liquors from classical American whiskey and bourbon to tequila and vodka in body shots, priced UAH 310 on the menu.
Moreover, the expat-beloved Golden Gate Pub located on Zoloti Vorota will hold an Anti Valentine’s Day party. It will take part on February 15 and gather everyone who doesn't enjoy Saint Valentine's Day or simply those who want to enjoy the occasion in a loud crowd. The guests are promised live music, contests and even a piñata.
Photo sources: unsplash.com, BarBoss, Expocenter of Ukraine. All images belong to their rightful authors.