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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Italy Series at ItalianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Italian holidays and observances. I’m Becky, and you're listening to Season 1 Lesson 9, Valentine’s Day.
Do you like being romantic?
On February 14, the day of Saint Valentine, Italians celebrate love just as people do in many other parts of the world. Valentine's Day has ancient origins, perhaps dating back to Roman times. Today in Italy, this day is the perfect opportunity to be kind to your significant others.
In this lesson, we’ll see how Italian lovers celebrate this day.
Now, before we go into more detail, we’ve got a question for you- Do you know which painting symbolizes St. Valentine in Italy?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
The festival of Valentine's Day seems to be very ancient, dating back to the mid-February celebration of fertility in ancient Rome. However, from the sixth century, the Christian church decided to hold a festival dedicated to Saint Valentine, one of the earliest Christian saints, who was executed by the Romans on February 14. It was not until the middle Ages that the festival of St. Valentine became the festival of lovers.
In Italy, the festival of St. Valentine is first and foremost the celebration of engaged couples, that is, of unmarried couples. It’s the perfect occasion to exchange some gifts, have a romantic date, or dine together. The most popular gift is a bouquet of red roses, a symbol of passion. The long-stemmed red roses hold a lot of significance and according to the tradition in Italy, these flowers should always be gifted in odd numbers, otherwise they bring bad luck! Usually a man gives roses to a woman to demonstrate chivalry.
One city you should visit on Valentine's Day is Verona. As you all know, Verona is the city of Romeo and Juliet, and the city of lovers par excellence. On Valentine's Day Verona is all decked out in red, and, best of all, you can visit Juliet's house for free and see the balcony where she used to wait for her beloved Romeo.
A few years ago, some people who were sick of romance decided to rebel against Valentine's Day, thus sparking the creation of an opposite celebration called the “festival of singles” on February 15, the day of Saint Faustino.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
Do you know which picture symbolizes St. Valentine in Italy?
It’s “The Kiss” by Francesco Hayez, preserved at the art gallery of Brera in Milan. This painting represents the passionate kiss of two young people who are destined to be separated.
Well listeners, how was this lesson? Did you learn something new?
Is there a special day for lovers in your country?
Please leave a comment telling us at ItalianPod101.com.
See you next time!