Nationalists call to boycott St Valentine’s Day, praise Russia’s own holiday

RIA Novosti / Artem Zhitenev
The Liberal Democratic Party of Russia is asking businesses to stop using St. Valentine’s Day for marketing purposes, opting instead for the Orthodox holiday of St. Peter and Fevronia, which falls on July 8.

MP Aleksey Didenko has addressed the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs with a letter asking them to abstain from referring to Valentine’s Day in their advertising campaigns as this leads to “excessive popularization” of the occasion that, in his opinion, is alien to the Russian people.

Didenko noted in his message that celebrating Valentine’s Day “was nothing but bowing before the Western mass culture that impoverishes Russia’s millennium-long history.” He added that the fact that Valentine’s was becoming popular among Russian youth was especially worrying.

The lawmaker suggested that businesses pay more attention to the Day of St. Peter and Fevronia, which has been celebrated by the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries on July 8. The date became an official state holiday – though not a day off work - in 2008 as the ‘Day of Family, Love and Fidelity’.

In an interview with mass circulation daily Izvestia, Didenko called Valentine’s Day “an artificial holiday” and added that typical Valentine-ish behavior was strongly against the Russian traditions as it allegedly allowed romance with many partners.

It is absolutely wrong to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with three different women. But this is the holiday’s tradition – everyone meet, confess their love to unlimited number of people and then just part. This is absolutely unacceptable in our culture, especially considering the fact that we have our own holiday,” he said.

Another argument presented by Didenko was Valentine’s tendency to deal a blow to everyday people’s finances, which are usually in a rather desperate state after lengthy New Year celebrations.

Attacking Valentine’s Day for its Western roots and commercial background has already become a staple in Russian politics and the MP acknowledged this fact in the interview.

Attempts to shield our youth from the corrupting influence of this holiday have been made before and failed. However, we will continue asking businessmen and the heads of educational establishments not to ignore this problem and we will prepare legislative initiatives that will make our culture healthier,” he said. “Import replacement must start from ideology and culture.”

In contrast, MP Evgeny Sidyakin of the parliamentary majority United Russia party addressed the Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov with the suggestion to celebrate St. Valentine’s with a ‘Night in a Registry Office’ event, similar to the popular ‘Night of Museums’. Sidyakin holds that lovers must be given an opportunity to register their marriage right after making confessions to their loved ones, and state registry offices must work right through until the morning of February 15.

However, the MP noted that if his initiative was accepted it could also be introduced for St. Peter and Fevronia Day.