There are many tales connected with this day. There is such a story in Bavaria, (“The Faithful Wives” from the book Clever Folk: Tales of Wisdom, Wit and Wonder, by Ruthilde M. Kronber): Duke Welf led a peasant revolt against King Konrad III. Surely the Duke’s merry men were not able to overcome the King and his army, and soon the peasants found themselves under siege. Ready to give up, the Duke’s wife, Lady Elizabeth, implored the King to let her and the other wives leave the castle with whatever they could carry on their backs. The King agreed and on Valentine’s Day he saw a long line of wives leaving the castle…carrying their husbands on their backs!
As the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day is quite recent in Germany, there are not so many traditions connected with it. This day is really aimed towards adults only; children at schools do not exchange little heart shaped cards, as in other countries. It is a strictly “adult matter”. But still the card-giving ritual and the little heart-shaped gifts or chocolates, spread out from France and England, are also common for Germans. One can also find a full range of romantic paraphernalia – gifts and cards and chocolates specifically made for Valentine’s Day.
There is a curious twist to Valentine’s symbols in Germany: little pigs offering flowers, or others laying down on chocolate hearts in rather provocative postures. There is a double mening there: that of luck and lust. Sometimes with the Valentine, there are some pigs holding a four-leaf clover while climbing a little ladder on a heart.
There is another interesting attribute of Valentine’s Day in Germany – the big ginger cookies, made in the shape of a heart and decorated with frosting. They usually contain a few words written on them such, expressing one’s feelings or even more straightforward messages describing the lover’s intentions. These cookies are available for sale before Christmas too, but they are the most popular on Valentine’s Day.
Happy Valentine’s! (Germans don’t say that by the way!)