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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in Poland, Lesson 15 - Valentine's Day
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Poland Series at PolishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Polish holidays and observances. I’m Michael, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 15. Valentine's Day. In Polish, it’s called walentynki.
Valentine's Day, which falls on February 14, has been permanently incorporated into the cultures of many countries around the world. Unsurprisingly, this is also true for Poland. Thirty years ago it was a completely unknown holiday, but these days it's a very popular phenomenon.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What is the other name for Valentine's Day in Polish?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
February 14 was not celebrated in Poland until the 90s, when, in a way, it divided the Poles into two groups—those who were for it and those who were against it. Proponents of this holiday believe that it's a day to show each other how we truly feel, because we are busy in our everyday lives and don't have much time for expressing our feelings, or uczucia. February 14 gives us the opportunity to slow down, confess our feelings, and share some one-on-one time. Those opposed, on the other hand, focus on the commercialism, or komercjalizm behind it, and think it's just a ploy to extract money from the people. They see Valentine's Day as a shallow holiday that doesn’t bear much meaning.
Of course, as the holiday has become more popular over the years, starting early February everything starts turning a little more red than usual; wherever you look, you see hearts, or serca, and cupids, in Polish kupidyn, and display windows encourage passersby to purchase gifts for their significant others.
Valentine’s Day is not only a day for adults—in Polish schools there is often a tradition of setting up the so-called “love mail”, where students can anonymously send a Valentine's Day card to the object of their affection, or to their friends. Throughout the day, the people responsible for the love mail deliver the cards to the classrooms, which is always followed by a considerable level of excitement, especially among the girls. Just a few years ago, Valentine's cards in Poland had the words "I love you" or "Be my Valentine” written on them in Polish, but recently these phrases are being replaced with prints written in English, which of course increases the reluctance of those who do not like this holiday in the first place.
By far the most common gifts that men give to women on this day are teddy bears, called miś pluszowy in polish, or red roses, called czerwone róże. Many men take their partners out on a romantic dinner, and the more adventurous ones pick out some lingerie. Recently, however, many couples have taken the opportunity to get out of a rut in their relationships, outdoing one another by coming up with original ways to spend time together, which of course leads to much more creative romantic gestures than the generic teddy bear!
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What is the other name for Valentine's Day in Polish?
In Poland there are two names for February 14. The one which is a translation of Valentine's Day is walentynki, but there is also Dzień Zakochanych, which means Amorous Day.
So listeners, how did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
And what do you think? Is Valentine’s Day a fun holiday or is it only created for commercial benefit?
Leave us your comment telling us what you think at PolishPod101.com!
See you next time!