Name: I Love You
Date of Issue: 06 February 2009
Valentine's Day in Europe
This day originates from the feast of St. Valentine, the bishop of Terni - a town in Italy located near Rome. According to a legend, the bishop Valentine blessed the bond between a heathen legionnaire and a young Christian woman. Since such relationships were strictly forbidden by the emperor, he was locked up in a dungeon and subjected to torture. He died a martyr's death on 14 February around the year 270 AD. Incidentally, it was also the day on which Rome celebrated a feast of harvest and marriage vows. Since the year 900 AD, this heathen feast has been celebrated as a day of love oaths and promises of friendship, and dedicated to St. Valentine. Presently, on 14 February marriages and engaged couples gather in Terni, where the main basilica of St. Valentine is located, in order to renew their pledges of love.
Valentine's Day across the ocean
Valentine's Day gained its present setting, which is very different from its European original characterised by a blend of joy and solemnity, in the United States of America. Americans are the leaders in commerce, and nobody can match their skills in this area. The scope of the feast has been extended (presently it's generally a feast of love) and it has been added with various gadgets, such as hearts, flowers, pigeons, balloons, lollypops in the colour red - symbolising love, and so on. The most significant thing, however, is sending valentines, i.e. special postcards with sentences printed on them, such as for example "Be my Valentine." It is now increasingly popular to send valentines to all the people we like, or who are close to us. Such messages are quite frequently left unsigned, leaving it to the recipient to figure out who the confession of love or expression of liking came from. Valentine's Day customs migrated across the ocean and came to Europe. One might say that this small, local feast was transformed overseas and, after its return, gained popularity in most of the countries of the old continent. It became a feast of love and joy.
Chełmno - the town of love
For Polish people, the town of Chełmno, known as the town of love, means as much as Terni for the Italians. The local Church of the Assumption houses a baroque side altar dedicated to St. Valentine, and one of his relics, famous for its miraculous properties. Apart from a ceremonial mass, on 14 February various occasional concerts, games and competitions take place, and in the evening a huge heart made up of lanterns is lit. Moreover, heart-shaped baked rolls with added lovage are a local specialty.
It's worth knowing that...
In the Polish language the word 'walentynka' (Valentine), meaning the feast, the special postcard, and also a beloved person, is spelled with no capital letter, in the same way as the words 'mikołajki' (St. Nicolas' Day) or 'andrzejki' (St. Andrew's Eve). That is because it belongs to the category of common nouns, constituting names of popular customs or celebrations.
New stamp and First Day Cover (FDC)
In order to commemorate St. Valentine's Day, Poczta Polska presents for the fifteenth time a special postage stamp which features the symbol of good fortune and luck - a four leaf clover. Its leaves are presented as hearts, one of which - the unique, pink one, is there just for you! The FDC, apart from the clover, also features a citation from George Sand (1804-1876), a French writer of the Romanticism period who was desperately in love with Chopin (1810-1849): "There is only one kind of true fortune in life - it is to love, and to be loved back." The FDC also features an occasional date stamp, in use in Chełmno 1 Post Office. On account of the issue, numerous Valentine's Day events take place in the town of Chełmno, and Poczta Polska actively participates in them through organising, among others, a philatelic exhibition featuring all the stamps in the "I love you" series, published since 1992.
Sunday, March 8, 2009