Valentine's day is the holiday which originated many centuries ago in Catholic countries. However, nowadays the day is celebrated all over the world (except in Saudi Arabia where this holiday is officially prohibited and one can be punished for celebrating it by paying a penalty).
Russia is no exception when it comes to Valentine's day and so the holiday is widely observed there. It is relatively new holiday for Russians, which has only started to be celebrated in the 90s of the 20th century. But the traditions and gifts are not as much different from the ones of the other countries.
Though these days we celebrate Valentine's day, for many centuries the Russians had and still have a wonderful holiday of their own which they call Lover's Day, It is
observed on the 8th of July and commemorates the happiness in marriage.
The history of this holiday goes back to the story of Duke Peter and peasant woman Fevronia who healed the Duke from a deadly disease. They fell in love and got married. But the aristocrats were unhappy with the new duchess and tried to get rid of her by asking her to leave their town and take whatever riches she wanted. She agreed to leave but instead of riches, she took her husband. After the couple left the aristocrats spent years fighting over the reign of the Murom town and eventually they were forced to return the Duke and Duchess.
The last days of their lives the Duke and his Duchess spent in monasteries. The couple prayed to die on the same day and asked to be buried in the same grave. They did die on the same day on the 8th of July. But according to the Russian Orthodox Church a monk and a nun could not be buried in one grave and therefore their bodies were buried in two separate graves. Then a day after the funeral their bodies were found in one coffin. People tried to separate them again, but the very next day they were found together again. Today, they are still in one grave. The couple is considered to be the patrons of marriage and family. On Lover's day it is a custom to go to the church to pray for love (amongst younger people) and for happiness in marriage (for married people).
Since last year this day is an official holiday and celebrated as a day of family and happiness in marriage.
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