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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Hungary, Lesson 14 - Valentine’s Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hungary Series at HungarianPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hungarian holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 14, Valentine’s Day. In Hungarian, it’s called Bálint-nap.
Valentine's Day is a well-recognized holiday worldwide that celebrates lovers. People all over the world give chocolate or flowers to their loved ones. But February 14 is not just about Valentine's Day for Hungarians. If you’re interested in the day’s other significance in Hungary, stay with us!
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question -
What is a St. Valentine's Cross? Who uses it and what for?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Hungary doesn't have a long tradition of giving flowers and sweets on Valentine's Day; this custom only became popular in the 1990s. This was the time when students started writing anonymous love letters, or szerelmes levelek, for each other signed "Your Valentine", in Hungarian “Az Ön Valentine”. Adults also usually give small presents, bonbons or flowers to their partners, sometimes during a candlelit dinner.
But who exactly was Saint Valentine, the man after whom this celebration is named? Historians don’t have an agreed upon explanation of who Saint Valentine actually was or when he was alive, but it's certain that in Christian circles, St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers and those who suffer from distemper or epilepsy.
There are several folk traditions beyond the Anglo-Saxon lovers' day, which are connected to the day of Bálint, meaning Valentine. For example, according to common beliefs, if the weather on Valentine’s day is cold, or hideg and dry, or száraz, it means that farmers will have a good crop yield. This day is also the day when it is said sparrows choose their mates and turtle-doves fly back from their winter destinations.
Hungary is a country that celebrates “name days.” By this tradition, each day of the year is connected to a certain name. On that day, people with that name will celebrate it as a special day, similar to their birthday. February 14 is the day of Bálint, which is the Hungarian counterpart of Valentine.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is a St. Valentine's Cross? And who uses it and what for?
Saint Valentine's Crosses were worn on the necks of people who suffered from epilepsy, which was also known as St. John's Evil. It was believed that the cross would protect them from the illness.
Did you like this lesson? Did you learn any interesting facts?
What’s the most popular Valentine’s Day present in your country?
Leave us your comments at HungarianPod101.com, and we'll see you in the next lesson.