Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.
Yes, we even celebrate it here in Gutenberg Land.
The main difference to other places being:
Here you first have to listen to a lecture on how it is all humbug,
and started by the Hallmark card company,
and why would anyone want to take part?
Or, if you have something to do with the U
you get to hear about how the fifth of February was the official start of the season of bird mating,
and Chaucer put it on the fourteenth,
the day of St Valentine,
the patron saint of beekeepers, engaged couples, epilepsy,
and the black plague.
How’s that for romantic?
In fact, I once conducted a childrens’ choir from inside the massive stone walls of a St. Valentine’s.
Built here in the middle ages to keep away the raging black plague.
Must have worked, since the church is huge, and still functioning.
Good thing I didn’t find out about the origins until almost the end of my time there.
Nothing like a vision of a skeleton playing the organ to make you want to conduct happy childrens’ music.
Actually, the reason I left was because a member of the choir won “Germany Searches for the Superstar”-
as near as I can tell, the German version of American Idol.
And then, of course, the other members all wanted the same thing-
with belting rock songs and choreography.
Hard to build into a church service.
since it is so hotly contended over here-
“waste of money” or “what, you have a wife like that and are doing nothing nice for her?”
I made a small study in a couple of the local gift shops of what is most often bought:
as a gag gift, or for singles:
half a male torso-
with bent arm,
not a corpse.
Also available with stitching.
(Gerhard, Hans, Georg…you fill in the blank)
It’s to relax on.
Then, for couples,
there is the engraved whiskey glass,
with or without a collection of small whiskey bottles.
I assume that one is only bought for their wives by married men.
Maaannny years married men.
Then there is:
For the younger:
A teddy with a picture of the couple.
Or a rose, pressed into a block of glass.
A bathmat with Mr and Mrs,
Or an engraved set of wooden breakfast boards-
about the size of a paperback book,
traditional over here for eating your morning hardroll and cheese on.
Oh, and, of course, the piece de resistance,
suitable to win the hearts of every couple:
noodles stamped with “I love you”
And to eat them with:
a “marriage chain”-
a one and a half foot chain of wooden links,
carved in one piece,
with wooden spoons on both ends.
So you have to eat together.
Now don’t you feel silly that you bought flowers at the gas station?
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