"This blog is not necessarily for lovers of art, it includes a variety of topics and whatever. I'm a painter who likes to know what's really going on in the world today. So you might find anything from Shamrocks to Salmiakki mentioned here on my blog. There will of course be some boring, factual and informational posts, but I'll keep them to a minimum, I promise!

And I might get a bit nostalgic now and then.

So you have been warned!"

- Alan Hogan

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Unexpected Rose!

As most of us are aware today is St. Valentine's Day, and I thought I'd just write a few words about my thoughts on the matter. First of all I'll get the history lesson out of the way by just leaving a link on Saint Valentine. Any curiosities can be answered at this link. I suppose like anything related to religion and history, there's a bit of mystery and confusion of facts associated around this Saint, but all I can say is that I do know where the Relics of Saint Valentine are situated. That's an easy one, they're in my hometown of Dublin at Whitefriar Street Church. .......and if it's in Dublin it must be the real thing!

I always remember this because I used to walk past Whitefriar Street church regularly on my way to work while living in Dublin a few years ago. It was always full of tourists around this time of year, and every St.Valentine's Day they still hold a special Mass to celebrate the saint and all those who are in love in the world.

I remember being back in school and some of my classmates coming in on Valentine's Day bragging about how many Valentine's Day-cards they received in the post that day. It was normal to receive maybe two or three cards, but there were always a few boys who got a lot more. I am talking about double-figures here, and they often brought the cards in to prove it too!  I found this a little worrying as I went to an all-boy school, and I couldn't understand how any of these guys had the time to meet up with so many girls between sports and homework. Like myself, most of my close friends were struggling to find one steady girlfriend during the year, so the arrival of just one Valentine's card was a welcomed bonus. 

Valentine Cards don't have to cost much in these hard times, and after all, it's the thought that counts. Now if only they had these budget cards when I was back in school!

After the usual early stage of sending cards, a guy tends to move on to the more hardcore Valentine presents such as chocolates or flowers. Sometimes, budget prevailing, a trip to a fancy restaurant is the order of the day. Traditionally it is not unlike a guy to totally forget about Valentine's Day, or so I've been led to believe from all the female stories I heard and read about. Maybe it's the truth or maybe it's an urban legend, who knows!

This leads me on to another story, a weird one.  
It was Valentine's Day, shortly after I first came to live in Finland. I was sitting in my house having a cup of coffee when I had a visit from some of my wife's relatives. As I welcomed and greeted them into our home her uncle walked slowly over to me and handed me a big red rose. I immediately called my better half and  handed it to her. She then explained that it was actually for me. I stopped and stared in confusion at her for a minute before turning around to thank her uncle for the nice 'flower'. I had to explain that it is unusal for an Irish guy to receive flowers of any kind at any time, least of all on Valentine's Day. Well, unless he was gay perhaps, then it would look okay I suppose.  I continued at this stage to be confused and cautious. I wanted to know what this was all about. 
After several explanations everything was crystal clear. It turns out that the celebration of St.Valentine's Day isn't just reserved for lovers in Finland. This special day is called "Ystävänpäivä" which translates as "Friends Day", and it is not only a day of romance but a day to celebrate friendships, which I reckon is okay. And this totally explains why my wife's uncle gave me a present. Although I still find receiving flowers from another guy a bit on the weird side! Apparently when young folk graduate from college over here in Finland, they are each presented with a special white cap and a rose. Even the boys get a rose. So it's not such a big deal!

Have a happy St.Valentine's Day wherever you may be.
And as they say here in Finland on "Ystävänpäivä" or "Friends Day",

"Hyvää Ystävänpäivää!"

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- Alan


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The Art Garage, Finland

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