Though not a traditional Czech holiday, more and more Czechs are adopting the largely Western tradition of gifting your sweetheart with chocolate, flowers, and if you’re a really thoughtful giver, or incredibly lucky recipient, jewelry.
Celebrated on February 14 to commemorate the martyrdom of St. Valentine who was executed for defying a Roman dictate that forbade the soldiers of Claudius II to marry, the holiday certainly has twisted origins.
While in most countries the day is welcomed with thoughtful gifts, not bloodletting and protests, here in the Czech Republic on Valentine’s Day you can expect both.
For the fifth year running a February-14th blood drive will take place throughout the country as a part of the annual campaign Miluješ? Daruj krev! (Do You Love? Give blood!) aimed at getting young people to donate blood.
Currently, hospitals in Prague and the Czech Republic are seeking donors ages 18-65 with a minimum weight of 50 kg. Donors will be asked to fill in a questionnaire, give a blood sample, and undergo an examination and interview with the doctor. If the donor is cleared, blood is immediately drawn.
According to organizers, “The reason for having the event on the feast of St. Valentine’s Day is that it is unnecessarily considered as a commercial holiday in the Czech Republic, so we would like to give it a Czech dimension and a traditional sense in the sense of giving someone close to something that has great value.”
Those interested in making a donation should contact their local hospital through February 15.
In the Czech Republic, Valentine’s Day is also a time of activism.
The marriage equality activists from the Jsme Fer (We Are Fair) collective will use the holiday as a platform for advocating gay marriage with their February 14 Jedna láska, jedno manželství event being held at Patra club in Prague.
The night of workshops and a free screening of the film Gayby Baby, which takes a look at kids raised in same-sex families, is open to families and people of all orientations.
Also taking place on February 14, the One Billion Rising event, co-hosted by One Billion Rising-Prague, Ozvi se!/HollaBack! Czech, and V-Day Prague International Voice, is the local chapter of the global initiative to end violence against women.
Among the world’s biggest events devoted to raising awareness of the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped during her lifetime, this year’s campaign is focused on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.
“The Istanbul Convention is a document which declares that the countries within the European Union will no longer tolerate violence against women in any form. The Czech Republic was late to sign the agreement and it is still to be ratified which would mean making actual changes in legislation,” say organizers.
Activists around the world will perform the same dance in solidarity with women whose lives are daily affected by violence. In Prague, the dance will take place at 12:30 pm at Palacký Square.