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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- “Holidays in Sweden” Series at SwedishPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Swedish holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 12, Valentine's Day. In Swedish, it’s called alla hjärtans dag.
In Sweden, as in many other countries, people celebrate Valentine's Day. This takes place on February 14, and it’s been celebrated in Sweden since around the 1960s.
In this lesson you’ll learn about where Valentine's Day comes from and how it is celebrated in Sweden.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question?
Do you know what the most common gift is to give on Valentine's Day in Sweden?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Valentine's Day has its origins in medieval times, when they celebrated St. Valentine in France and England. The link to romance, or romantik, and love, or kärlek, arose presumably from a popular notion that birds in mid-February searched and found their partners. This inspired boys and girls to think about who would be their special Valentine, that is to say, who they would get together with.
In England and France in the 1300s, Valentine's Day became a day of celebration for young people and people in love, and couple building games were common. It was only during this period that St. Valentine began to be associated with love. Even in Sweden, the custom of pairing girls and boys together had existed, but the tradition was mostly done around Pentecost. During the Middle Ages it was also a custom to write love letters, or kärleksbrev, with rhyming poems for your loved one, and later on in the 1800s it became popular to hand each other decorated Valentine's cards.
In Sweden, Valentine's Day wasn’t celebrated very much until the 1960s, when it was launched for commercial reasons. A department store called NK tried to import the custom to Sweden in 1956, but it took time before the celebration became more than a heart-shaped jelly confection. During the 1990s, Valentine's Day started to get more attention in Swedish schools, at which point the celebration finally found recognition in the Swedish festival calendar.
On Valentine's Day over four million roses, or rosor, are sold in Sweden! Dark red roses are especially in high demand. But due to the fact that the global demand for roses exceeds the supply on this particular day, a lot of dark red tulips and carnations are also sold.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question.
Do you know what the most common gift is to give on Valentine's Day in Sweden?
As you might have figured out, flowers are the most common thing to give, perhaps followed by a dinner. The most appreciated gift is actually a dinner, or middag. The things that are least appreciated are jelly hearts, or geléhjärtan.
How did you find this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
How do you celebrate Valentine's Day in your country?
Leave us a comment letting us know at SwedishPod101.com. And we'll see you in the next lesson!