Valentine's Day... love, affection, hearts, doves, figures of winged Cupid, valentines...
A nice holiday, isn't it? We, Armenians, celebrate this nice holiday twice in February, because we have our "own St. Valentine" and his name is St. Sarkis.
St. Sarkis is one of the most beloved saints among the Armenian nation. Together with his 14 soldiers-companions he was martyred for the sake of Christian faith.
According to one of the folk stories upon return of their victorious battle Captain St. Sarkis and his 39 soldiers-companions celebrated their victory in the royal palace. When all of them were drunk and went to sleep, the king ordered 40 young women to kill the brave soldiers. 39 of the women obeyed the order and killed the soldiers, whereas one of them seeing the handsome and peaceful face of sleeping Sarkis fell in love with him and instead of killing kissed him. Getting up and seeing what had happened St. Sarkis straddled his white horse and taking the young woman with him smashed the gates of the city, brought up violent snow-storm and left the city. It is because of this folk story that people in love started to consider St. Sarkis their intercessor and protector. St. Sarkis always helps and supports all young people asking his help and support.
The feast of St. Sarkis is celebrated not only by means of church rites and prayer, but also folk traditions.
Wonders are worked by the mediation of St. Sarkis. On the day of the feast young people pray asking the saint to make their prayers audible to God. The day before the feast young people eat salty cookies and don't drink water to encourage dreaming at night. After eating the salty cookie they eat nothing else and pray waiting for the dream. They believe that St. Sarkis decides their fate, that the person who gives them water to drink in their dreams will become their future spouse. Seeing future bride or bridegroom in the dream is the result of the wonder worked thanks to sincere faith.
There are many miracles and folk traditions related to the saint. On the night preceding the feast of St. Sarkis the faithful people place a tray full of flour before the door believing that while passing near their door at dawn St. Sarkis will leave his footprint on the flour symbolizing the fulfillment of their dreams.
People in love present each other cards, flowers or sweets on the occasion of the feast.
I'm sure there are similar holidays and traditions in your culture, too. Let us know and learn about them...