Today we are celebrating the Saint Valentine’s Day. This is quite a commercial holiday and successfully exported from the Anglo-Saxon countries to almost all around the world. Regardless any deeper cultural meaning, I guess we all enjoy this day, well, unless one is an inpatient single.
Serbia, where I am now, is not an exception. The whole Belgrade is full of guys and girls with long red roses. But here we’re celebrating also the memory of some other saint – Saint Tryphon (Serbian: Trifun), the patron of wine, wine-makers and vineyards. Actually, according to the old Julian calendar, used in the Orthodox Church, we have today February 1st. And this the day of wine!
The Holy Martyr Tryphon (or Trypho) is a saint of both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. During prayers he is often invoked for the protection of gardens. He was born in Lampsacus (Ancient Greek: Λάμψακος, Lampsakos), which was in Phrygia, now in Turkey. I will spare you the story of his martyrdom – let’s just mention that human creativity in tortures is endless.
In Serbia, the Saint Tryphon’s Day (Serbian: Trivunjdan or Tripunjdan) is celebrated especially in the wine-growing towns and villages of Vojvodina, Šumadija and Pomoravlje regions; sometimes more than the fall harvest home festivities, which may be spectacular too. In the countryside, the saint himself is also called Zarezojlo, Zarezan or Orezač. This day priests bless vineyards and winegrowers go to prune the vines. As a matter of fact, those other names of Saint Tryphon are related to this traditional ‘pruning’. It is believed that from now on the snow will melt, the spring is slowly taking over and this way both nature and love among people awake; and here is the place for the Saint Valentine. There are also numerous sayings and customs related to this holiday.
When we’ve already immersed into the Balkan world, it’s noteworthy that Saint Tryphon is also the patron of the beautiful town of Kotor in Montenegro, where the splendid Romanesque cathedral is dedicated to him. Considering the size of Kotor, the church itself has much to offer: Consecrated in 1166, it hides a surprising treasury, unique frescos from the 14th century, as well as the cross with which the Pope’s legate Marco d’Aviano blessed the army of Polish king, John III Sobieski before the Battle of Vienna – one of the decisive moments in the European history.
So, let’s celebrate the double holiday – of love and wine – with a glass of some good grapes’ nectar and maybe a little bit of love poetry… Already Ovid wrote in his “Amores”:
“This festive day calls for loving, and poetry, and wine:
these are the gifts it’s right to carry to the gods”.
Needless to say, love and wine have much in common, so let’s finish with the French proverb: “May our love be like good wine, grow stronger as it grows older”. Cheers!
PS: Since I’m a grass widower in this period, I will spend my St. Valentine’s/St. Trifun’s Day with a glass of sweet liquorish Mavrodaphne and Italian poetry by Rutagengwa Ndayitabi: “Viene il tramonto/il vino mi porta nella notte”. This passage is a recommendation, too 🙂