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Romance, chocolates now in season

Date Posted: 2011-02-11

Love is in the air, and by Monday, it should pretty much permeate everything as Valentine's Day takes over hearts-and stomachs-of romantics everywhere.

It's the day when love and impetuous behavior overtake men and women the world over, showering each other with sweetheart cards, flowers, chocolates, and of course...romantic dinner invitations. For a day that nobody really knows how it began, Valentine's Day has become much more than a tradition.

Valentine's Day means more than one billion mushy, romantic cards being mailed and hand delivered around the world. It's the most romantic day of the year, where stores generate 16% of their annual chocolate sales, and when flower shops have the busiest day of the year, most notably in red roses. On Okinawa, Valentine's Day will be no exception. Across the island, and on all the bases, specials of one sort or another are being offered up.

If you can't get into the romantic spirit with all that's available, you could be labeled as a ‘baah! Humbug!' person. Knowing that's not your intent, pick and choose where to take that special person for a day, or an evening, of romantic spirited fun.

The Seamen's Club at Naha Military Port makes it really easy; its Valentine Sweetheart Dinner runs three days: Saturday, Sunday and Monday 5 p.m. ~ 10 p.m., offering a gourmet dinner for couples, complete with wine, chocolates and a rose for the lady. Reservations are recommended for whichever night's most convenient [DSN 648-7493 or Commercial (098) 857-1753]. The culinary experience begins with melon-ham-mozzarella salad and Vichyssoise, followed by Shrimps a la Provencal, vegetable meange, and more.The couples dinner is $54.95, but the Seamen's Club even has a Singles version of the Valentine dinner for $32.95. The Seamen's Club is located next to Naha Military Port, just before Naha International Airport.

Kadena's club system is making it easy to be in love this next week. Kadena ITT is offering a Valentine's Day Dinner Cruise 3:15 p.m. ~ 8:15 p.m., a romantic trip aboard the Moby Dick from Naha Commercial Pier. The cruise is $245 per couple for the Steak and Lobster Dinner, or $185 for Sauteed Salmon and Chicken dinner option. The Rocker NCO Club hosts a Valentine's Day dinner starting at 6 p.m. Cost is $55 per couple. On tap are petite grilled filet mignon and crab stuffed jumbo shrimp, or grillet petite filet mignon and chicken Florentine Feuilletage. The Kadena Officers Club Valentine Dinner from 6 p.m. Monday offers four choices, including Chateaubriand, North Atlantic Lobster Tail or Chicken Florentine. The Seaside Ristorante has a Cupid's Dinner Monday 4 p.m. ~ 8:30 p.m. The dinner's $60 per couple.

Marine Corps Community Services has plenty of activities for lovebirds. Participating clubs include Surfside, Ocean Breeze, Tengan Castle and the Lanai from 5:30 p.m. ~ 9:30 p.m. Monday. Dinner begins with soup and greens, followed by a surf and turf entree of grilled filet mignon and broiled lobster.

Lest we forget...the legend. The most popular belief on Valentine's origin dates to the days of the Roman Empire, where Claudius II, a mean-spirited emperor, decreed that only single men be permitted in the military, and that marriage was outlawed. Well, boys being boys, a priest, Saint Valentine defied the emperor's order, and married secretly married some young lovers. Tossed into prison and sentenced to death for his defiance, Valentine took things one step farther, sending the first Valentine's Card to a young girl. That girl was believed to have been his jailor's daughter who visited Saint Valentine before his execution. He reportedly signed the card ‘From your Valentine', an expression still being used by countless romantics even today.

Taking the legend one step further back, it traces to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia on February 15th, a celebration honoring the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. Aside from the bountiful feast, Lupercalia festivities are said to have included the pairing of young women and men. Men would draw women's names froma box, and each couple would be paired until the next year's celebration.

Greeting card companies insist their influence tops everything, thanks to their romantic cards filled with whimsical, mushy words that are sent or given during this week and next. Hallmark Greeting Card Company, the world's largest, says more than one billion Valentine's Day cards will be sent this year, and friends, that doesn't even count the mega-millions more that school kids will be exchanging in classrooms.

A local cultural note: things are typically different in Japan. Valentine's Day in Okinawa =Japanese style, anyway-is a time when women honor their men, showering them with chocolates and sweet affection. Turnabout's fair play, and men should be prepared to reciprocate with flowers, chocolates and most probably much, much more, when White Day is celebrated next month. The Japanese tradition is for men to reciprocate ten-fold. That's gifts, gentlemen! Here, Valentine's Day and White Day are as popular and lucrative for retailers as is Christmas.

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