Love customs in Istrian tradition
Classic ideas like going to wellness, restaurant or cinema got bored to you and now you are chasing new Valentine’s Day ideas with your loved one? If you are thinking of a vacation in Istria you are on a good way to create new memories for your mutual scrapbook. Istrian cultural heritage is rich in numerous customs and rituals, including Valentine’s Day celebrations, wedding rituals, engagements, and so on. We dug them out of the scraps of our grandparents – who have a recipe for everything – especially those who want to spice up this special date. We suggest you take a look at our guide through the traditional Istrian customs and try them out with your partner. Here you go top 10 ideas to celebrate Valentine’s Day by the Istrian tradition… Have fun!
1. Bride kidnapping
Bride kidnapping was the custom of ancient Slavic people. This tradition is known in the Istrian villages but is no longer in practice. It used to happen when the couple wanted to avoid stress about wedding organization and the large wedding expenses. But, if the bride’s family opposed to the relationship, then the groom would take away his loved woman and marry her secretly. These were not violent kidnappings – all that would be conducted with the bride’s consent. We do not recommend you to kidnap your partner, but you can both agree to surprise one another by “running away” to a secret, romantic place…
2. Apple as a gift
Apples have no particular meaning for the modern people, but it was a significant gift and symbol to our ancestors. During the time of scarcity, apple was a rare and delicious meal. In ancient times apple was a symbol of “forbidden love”. It was “forbidden fruit” which gives both erotic and love connotations. The apple is a symbol of knowledge and immortality, but also of evil and sexuality – both denoting power. It belongs to the genus of roses – a plant which is symbolically linked to romantic relationships. In Istria, it was the symbol of the hearthstones and wells, so it was a wedding gift. Sweet and juicy apples can be gifted in more original ways – as a baked dessert stuffed with various supplements (we recommended nuts and honey), or you can buy a decorative apple made of glass or other interesting materials. Keep in mind the cultural significance of apples and inform your loved ones of it- revive the forgotten traditions together.
3. Try the ancient love rituals
Whether you are superstitious or not, getting to know the good old love rituals will surely make you laugh. Choose one of the offered rituals and try your ”magical” abilities – and have some fun. You might want to inflame passions in a relationship or boost fertility? You probably do not believe in these old wives tales – but it is worth a try, at least for fun. Our grandmothers enjoyed drinking coffee, and in the fortune-telling from coffee grounds. Symbols that can be found in the coffee and that are related to love blossoms are a star, the figure of a woman, flower, clover, letter L, dog, and a peacock. Placing apple on the hearthstone of the house once represented happiness and abundance in marriage. Avoiding tying knots on a bridal wardrobe was a ritual in order to prevent the weakening of the groom’s potency. Love-related plants are red roses that symbolize passion and love, lavender simulates beauty and youth, and rosemaries are for emotional healing.
4. Why are red roses a symbol of Valentine’s Day?
Venus, the goddess of love and beauty choose the rose as her trademark because it was her favorite flower. But why are red roses a symbol of Valentine’s Day? The legend says that Venus once accidentally stung her finger with rose thorn and her blood painted roses in red color. That is how the oldest known symbol of Valentine’s was made. You can not make a mistake if you choose a red rose as a Valentine’s Day gift.
5. Take a picture in front of Amphitheater’s window.
Legend of the emergence of the Pula Amphitheater has a love connotation. This magnificent monument built the emperor Vespasian for his mistress – freed slave (Liberta) Antonia Cenida. Take a photo with your loved one in front of the Amphiteater’s window. Let your imagination take you back to ancient times and daydream about yourself with some symbol of ancient Rome – such as the laurel wreath. Mask yourself as a citizen of ancient Rome and take a picture for a memory.
6. Bake heart-shaped cakes
Our grandparents traditionally bake heart-shaped cakes and bread before Valentine’s Day and share them with their loved ones. Take the mold into your hands, then bake biscuits or heart-shaped cakes. Make biscuits with butter, ginger or traditional Croatian pepper biscuits called paprenjaci. Cover your cakes with chocolate or decorate it with initials of your loved one… Winter time is still ongoing, so serve your biscuits with mulled wine or rum punch.
7. Sail with Batana
Rovinj fisherman’s boat – batana, is a part of the cultural heritage of Rovinj, like Rovinj gondolas, small fisherman’s boat that is good for sailing around Rovinj old town. Great idea for a romantic boat excursion. If on Valentine’s Day weather is fine, book a batana boat in Rovinj and enjoy a romantic cruise around old town – the view is magical. Book a dinner for two after an excursion in one of the fish restaurants – Rovinj has a wide choice!
8. Study the folk proverbs
People gathered folk proverbs and wisdom over time, therefore they were created mainly thanks to the experience. The experiences were different and sometimes contradictory. ‘‘Dowry is crucial for marrying a girl”, ”marry the devil for treasure – the treasure is gone – the devil remains”. What if a good Dowry is just a bait and deception for a bad character? Can marriage for benefit be meaningful? ”If you like a woman – look at her mother first”. Daughters often mirrored their mothers – that’s how our folk used to speak. If you want to marry a woman, her mother can be an indicator of what she will become in the future… There is also a poem about the eating habits of a young girl who eats very little at her wedding, but continues to eat more and more in her married life… sounds familiar? From the proverbs, you can read experience, belief, or take a look at the lives of certain people. When we think better – we will see that nothing is said in vain. Read one of the poem collections with your partner and think about them together.
9. Enjoy as a resident of Ancient Rome
The reign of the ancient Rome left traces throughout Istria, and today there are numerous recipes that have been preserved since then. The Romans were known for their hedonism and exaggeration in food and drink – we don’t recommend that, but you can give yourself a bit of joy – at least on Valentine’s Day. The Romans adored roses and they were preparing scented oils based on roses. They loved to experiment with food, and they loved to cook. Make a Roman dinner for two, reach for some recipe that dates back to ancient Rome, and for dessert make a scented bath. Do you like sweet alcoholic drinks? If you do – make sangria (sweet – fruit wine) or reach for another drink that you like. Enjoy.
10. Walk along the sea waves
What is more romantic than a walk near the beach and watching the sunset or the starry sky? If you live in Istria or you are here on vacation then you know at least a few promenades near the sea, and maybe you know about some breathtaking locations. Mark your romantic sea walk with stunning photos, relax with the sound of waves, enjoy the smell of pine trees… Conclude your Valentine’s day with sea idyll.