14th of February. The whole world is being decorated with hearts and cupids and everybody is talking about love. Well, almost the whole world. At the Balkans people are cutting grapevines and drinking wine. The day of love? The day of wine? Saint Valentine or Saint Tryphon?
Both of them, Saint Valentine and Saint Tryphon, were living in the 3rd century and both were martyrs. Celebrating their day at 14th of February has long traditions which have been changing during centuries, being globalized and commercialized. Nowadays, Saint Valentine’s day is winning this race of popularity all over the globe, having an honest bunch of lovers of this holiday. And the word ‘’lovers’’ is not random here at all, since Saint Valentine is a patron of love.
But can the world really answer the question, how did Saint Valentine become a patron of love? There must be a story behind. According to one legend, Saint Valentine was secretly performing weddings for young couples in love, supporting soldiers who were forbidden to marry. He opposed the emperor’s edict forbidding marriage, as married men were more likely to stay at home instead of willingly participating in wars and bravely fighting for Rome. Saint Valentine was thrown into prison and executed for not obeying the edict.
And what’s love got to do with Saint Tryphon? Saint Tryphon is a patron of wine, farmlands and marital love. So, we still stay at the topic of love. Indeed, love for wineyards is strong and the winegrowers and wine lovers celebrate this special day. In Balkan countries, such as Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, 14th of February is also considered as the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is for winegrowers the first time of the year to cut grapevine to ensure its proper growth and symbolically sprinkle it with wine. The day continues with feasts and it is a tradition to share some wine with family and friends.
The roots of the day as it is celebrated now in the Balkans can go back to the ancient cult of Dionysus, the god of grape-harvest and wine. Back then, the Dionysia were organized in ancient Athens. But still, it is celebrated under the name of Saint Tryphon Day. According to historical sources, Saint Tryphon comes from the Lesser Asia, province of Phrygia (which is a part of today’s Turkey). This area is considered as one of the ancestry regions of vineyard and wine. Saint Tryphon himself was a boy who took care of geese and was known from healing people by a miracle. Just as Saint Valentine he was persecuted for the power of his faith.
Today, two different traditions remained and two different saints are being mentioned, depending on the region and belief. Love should be celebrated always, though, doesn’t matter of the day. Wine is being poured any day and anywhere in the world. And people like to have lots of opportunities to just celebrate. 14th of February… Wine or love? Anyway, wine and love make a nice couple, don’t they?