Valentine's Day in Ukraine: History and Present Days

Valentine's Day in Ukraine: History and Present Days

One of the most well-known holidays in winter, the 14th of February gathers controversial opinions no matter the country. Some believe it is indeed the most romantic day of the year and wish to celebrate it with their beloved ones, others are sure it's a commercial holiday meant to skyrocket the sales. Whatever the truth is, Valentine's Day stays a major event on the map. Let's see about it in Ukraine.

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The origin story of St. Valentine's usually revolves around several legends. According to one of them, Roman emperor Claudius II wanted to conquer the world in 269, but his army did not have nearly enough soldiers to implement his plans in reality. The ruler spent some time thinking and was convinced that family life was the main fault, as soldiers spent a lot of time with their beloved ones. Claudius II then issued a decree prohibiting marriage for those engaged in military service. Nevertheless, the young brave priest Valentine supposedly secretly married the lovers. When the emperor learned of this, he condemned Valentine to death. When Valentine was waiting for the execution in jail, he allegedly fell in love with the blind daughter of Julius's prison keeper and healed her. Right before the execution, he left her a farewell message and signed it with "Your Valentine".
Thus, he created one of the day's traditions popular in many countries, as well as in Ukraine – a Valentine's card. The priest was cut off his head for disobedience, and later canonized by the Catholic Church. Two hundred years later, in 496, Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 the Day of St. Valentine. To this day, it is not known exactly which of countless legends is true, and even more — which of the martyrs named Valentine was declared a saint.
However, the legends about St. Valentine have occupied people's thoughts and hearts for several centuries. It is believed that in Western Europe the holiday began to be widely celebrated in the 13-th century, and in the United States — from 1777.
Present days
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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 18th century — lovers made postcards from colorful paper and signed with colorful ink. Italians call February 14 a "sweet day" and give sweets as a present. Valentine cards are sent by mail in a pink envelope 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.
Read: Best Spots for Romantic Dinner in Kyiv
In Ukraine Saint Valentine's Day as a holiday for the lovers is relatively new, but already quite popular and massive. The celebrations of the day gained its popularity at the end of the 20-th century — 90's 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 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 friendship gesture. It is customary to write in the 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. Now, let's see what ways are there to celebrate the St Valentine's Day in Ukraine 2018.
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To start with, Kyiv as the capital traditionally offers a variety of events up to everyone's taste. Performances, fairs, entertainment for children and food court will be traditionally present at UAmadeFest "The Holiday of Lovers". In addition, workshops dedicated to the occasion, as well as speed-dating will be held in Lavra Art Gallery on February 11-12, from 11 A.M. to 10 P.M.
Then, a rock band Epolets will arrange a festive concert in Kyiv. Pavel Varenica and Andrei Goloverda will perform acoustic versions of their songs to create a romantic atmosphere in Atlas club on February 13 at 7 P.M.
Another way to spend St. Valentine's Day in Kyiv is to visit the Jazz Love Songs and witness the brand new music program. Dmyto Aleksandrov, Pavlo Halitskii, Dmytro Teimuzarov and Yuri Salukhi will perform the sultry and passionate improvisations. One of the best orchestras of the country, Virtuosas of Kyiv, will perform as well in the Park Congress and Exhibition hall.
Read: Best Confectionaries in Lviv
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, often branded the most romantic city in Ukraine, has intriguing events for the Valentine's Day as well. Thus, on the 10th of February, Lviv House of Organ and Chamber Music will welcome the guests to enjoy the French organ music. Two micro-concerts, performed by the Organ House soloists Nadia Velychko and Olena Matseliukh, will remind of the winding streets os Paris and its romantic charm.
For those who want to enjoy modern live music, well-known Ukrainian band Druha Rika will give a concert in Malevich Night Club right on the 14th of February, to support their new album. As for those who want to abandon the romantic charm and simply dance the night away, 4 Friends Whiskey Pub has a perfect occasion — Single Malt Party to enjoy the whiskey, beer and various surprises for the visitors.
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Finally, Saint Valentine's Day in Odesa offers its dwellers and tourists to enjoy the symphonic orchestra show by Hardy orchestra. The new program involves greatest hits by Adele, Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Linkin Park and other classic performers. Acoustics of Odessa Philharmonic Theater will allow the guests to enjoy the rhythms at its best. Another option for the live music lovers is 'The Best Songs about Love', program created by an incredibly charismatic vocalist Gregory Boyd (USA). A trio of the best Ukrainian pianists and a string quartet will perform in the cozy chamber studio of the jazz club 'Perron No. 7'.
Read: Best Dating Places In Odesa
No matter where you are on Saint Valentine's Day, remember to love yourself and people around you – and have a great time!
Photo sources:,, All images belong to their rightful authors.

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