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Romantic notions plentiful at Valentines

By: Romantic notions plentiful at Valentine’s

Date Posted: 2010-02-11

First come the sweetheart cards and chocolates, and then the special dinner invitation.

Toss in the dozen red roses, and you’ve joined the ranks of those celebrating Valentine’s Day, a day so very special to lovers the world over. Interestingly though, it’s a day nobody really knows how it got started.

No matter how it started, the most important thing is what it is today: a time to let that special someone know how much you love and care for them.

Japanese tradition has always been for women to lavish attention on their men on Valentine’s, and for the men to reciprocate ten-fold in March, honoring their women with chocolates, flowers and gifts. Lots of gifts. In fact, Valentine’s Day and White Day in March have always been as popular as Christmas, and stores sell to tens of thousands of customers. Sadly, perhaps, the times are changing, and this year many women are simply looking out for themselves this Valentine’s Day. Hard to comprehend!

Further adding to the cultural difference, it is traditional here in Okinawa to give Valentine gifts and White Day gifts to not only those sweethearts, but to co-workers, friends and even fellow students.

For the more traditional minded, there are still Valentine’s opportunities to share the romantic notions. At the Seamen’s Club in Naha—next to the Okinawa Free Trade Zone just before the airport—Valentine’s is a time for a Sweetheart Dinner. The club is featuring the Sweetheart Dinner both Saturday and Sunday from 6 p.m. ~ 10 p.m. The gourmet dinner, which includes a seafood pasta, clam chowder, filet of beef in wine sauce, asparagus in cream sauce, pork medallions in cherry sauce, a sweethearts dessert, chocolates, wine and a rose for the ladies, is only $49.95 for couples. For those who are independent minded, a single seating is $30.95. Reservations are available at (098) 857-1753 or DSN 648-7493.

Okinawa Valentine’s Day celebrations center around candies, chocolates and dinner specials. On-base and off, clubs and restaurants are putting their sweet tooth forward, and offering gastronomic delights through the coming week and beyond.

Valentine’s Day, including the posting of St. Valentine’s Day in line with the Roman Catholic Church’s martyred saints Valentine, is the centerpiece of February’s month for romance. It begins with the special, often mushy verbiage cards sent to loved ones. Last year, more than one billion Valentine Cards were posted around the world.

One legend about Valentine Day’s origin evolves from the Roman Empire, where a mean-spirited Emperor, Claudius II, issued a decree that only single men be allowed in the military and that marriage was thereby outlawed. As the story goes, Valentine defied the emperor’s order and in secret, married young lovers. Valentine was reportedly jailed for his actions, and the legend stretches further that Valentine, himself a hopeless romantic, sent the first Valentine’s card to a young girl.
One more Valentine’s note, for those new to Okinawa and Japanese custom. Many Japanese women will still honor their men on February 14th Valentine’s Day, showering them with chocolates and sweet affection. That’s all wonderful, but men…be prepared to reciprocate, and more, next month.

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