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Valentine’s Day: lovers celebrate, church opposes

Armenians have beautiful national holidays recognized by the Church and there is no need to look for new ones, a clergyman says.

Saint Valentine’s Day, although not an Armenian national holiday, takes root in Armenia. The romantic tradition to present ‘heart’ gifts is gaining popularity among young people, although majority of them do not have any idea of who Valentine was and why the holiday is celebrated.

PanARMENIAN.Net - Meanwhile, Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC) strongly opposes to celebration of this holiday, labeling it as immoral.

It’s just another demonstration of admiration for the western culture and traditions, according to father Abraham Malkhasyan.

“This holiday is inadmissible for our public. It’s not national and has nothing to do with our church holidays,” he told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter. “Armenians have beautiful national holidays recognized by the Church and there is no need to look for new ones.”

Father Varham Melikyan noted, for his part, that it’s not known whom this holiday is meant to honor, as the personality of Valentine has not been identified yet and his biography does not coincide with the biographies of any of three Valentines martyred.

“The history of this holiday is vague, so the aspiration of our people to celebrate it is not understandable,” he said.

Ethnographers hold a different view. “I believe that Armenian people should give preference to our national holidays. But if St. Valentine’s Day is becoming more popular among youth, it’s not so bad. Being a foreign holiday, it still has the right to existence. The more so because it can acquire national coloring in the course of time. Finally, it’s the holiday of love, which brings people positive emotions,” ethnographer Gohar Stepanyan said.

There are varying opinions as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine". Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. In 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside February 14 to honor St. Valentine.

Stories may vary but for people, who can’t live without each other, it’s just another opportunity to say “I love you.”

Lilit Harutunyan / PanARMENIAN News
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