Valentine’s Day Globally

Today is Valentine’s Day which dates back to 496 AD when it was established by Pope Gelasius I.  By the 15th century it had become a time for lovers to express their love toward one another through flowers, candied goods and greeting cards (known as “valentines”).  However, in 1969 Pope Paul VI obliterated it from the German Roman Calendar.  But that hasn’t seemed to stop people all around the world – including those in Italy and Germany – from marking the day in some romantic way.  Let’s take a look.


Getting married on this day has taken on some interesting traditions in Thailand like saying “I do” underwater; sky-diving or hanging off cliff-sides.  But if you’re going to go popular, you’ll need to get wed at Bangkok’s Village of Love.  For those seeking something a bit more spiritual, it is traditional to lay candles, incense and red roses at the Trimurti shrine and pray for a husband at the Hindu deity’s feet.


Although we get the impression Germans don’t know how to do romance, it’s actually not the case.  Since the end of the Second World War, Valentine’s Day (known as Valentinstag in Germany) has become increasingly popular with Germans making heart-shaped gingerbread cookies for their loved ones.


Japan has two celebratory days for Valentine’s.  On February 14th women usually give their boyfriends chocolate as part of the “giri choco” tradition; indeed, they can give up to 20 boxes without seeming weird!  This dates back to the 1950s when the holiday started and a wise Japanese chocolate manufacturer saw a chance to boost the economy and make a nice tidy profit at the same time.  Soon enough, everyone jumped in and tons of chocolate was being sold on this day.  According to a Bloomberg report, half of all chocolate sold each year in Japan is on Valentine’s day.

But it doesn’t end here for the egalitarian Japanese.  On March 14th – White Day – men shower their ladies with chocolate (of course) as well as jewelry and lingerie.


Of course Italy has to have something huge on Valentine’s Day, being known as one of the most romantic countries in the world.  Couples go to Verona for “Verona in Love” at which a variety of Shakespeare-themed events are held like tours to retrace Romeo and Juliet’s footsteps; a competition to choose the best love letter to Juliet or a moment with Juliet’s statue for good fortune.  As well, one can enjoy the gorgeous city for what it has to offer: vineyards; boutique hotels and tons of candle-lit eateries to bring out the romantic in everyone.


The British do the traditional stuff of cards, flowers, chocolates and hearts, but one might be curious as to what the newly-wed Royals will be doing on their first Valentine’s Day as a married couple.  Unfortunately nothing all that romantic since William is deployed at the Falkland Islands today.  However, not to want to waste a day on frivolity, his bride Kate will be spending time with children at a medical facility run by one of her charities of choice – Action and Addiction.  Perhaps she’ll get a bouquet sent to her by her loved one anyway…

Happy Birthday Kate!

The Duchess of Cambridge celebrated the big 30 earlier this week.  Yes indeed, Kate Middleton – wife of the Duke of Cambridge (aka Prince William), exited her second decade in life and became 30.  Rumors of various plans for this celebration were discussed in a previous post but, at the end of the day, what really did Kate get to do on her special day?

Well, it seems that contrary to rumors of the big birthday bash being thrown for her by her sister and brother-in-law Pippa and Harry, her celebrations were quite low-key.    She simply ate dinner with family and friends in private quarters at Kensington Palace.

It seems therefore, that rumors preceding the day (along with the press) got it quite wrong – or maybe they were being purposefully misguided.  Ultimately what Kate did on her birthday was just enjoy a pleasant dinner with those nearest and dearest to her.  Neither the gifts she received – nor the food she ate on the night of her special day prepared by her favorite chef – have as yet been revealed.

The only thing we did manage to find out was the gift she – sort of – received from Kim Kardashian.  On the day of the Duchess’ birthday, Shoe Dazzle and Kardashian presented the world (in her honor) with ‘The Duchess’ a black, leather-quilted platform pump.  It is unlikely however, that Kate will be seen wearing a pair of these shoes, but still, as they say, the thought was there.

New Year’s Eve: How The Royals Do It

There's no place like home it seems for the newest royal couple, even when it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve! But family first.  Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and hubby Prince William, first spent Christmas with Will’s side of the family and then returned to Catherine’s folks in Berkshire to celebrate the New Year with her parents and sister Pippa.

The Duchess was dressed comfortably in jeans which was fitting while she played with the family’s two dogs at the tail end of 2011.  It looked like an enjoyable family time out. Later on, Catherine was dressed to impress for her participation in the “canvas palace” that had been set up by Pippa.

And already in 2012 Catherine has started her work.  It was just announced that she has become the patron of four worthy charities: Action on Addiction, East Anglia's Children's Hospices, the Art Room and the National Portrait Gallery. It’s good that she had a relaxing time over the holiday period, as now it’s work, work, work for the young lady, especially as her husband will soon be deployed.

A Princess in Jeans?

Casual Kate Crushes Kids?

Well, not quite but Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, certainly disappointed a bunch of school children when she attended a meeting at an art therapy center, located at a school, last week.  Turning up in jeans, it wasn’t what they expected.  But in fairness to the newest Royal, it was only a private meeting she was there for – she just wanted to find out more about the Art Room – the organization that had requested her support. There is a branch located at the school.  The charity helps children who have various challenges.

At the Robert Blair Primary School in Islington where the meeting took place, the children had been waiting with great excitement for her grand entrance…and when it came, they were not too pleased.  Word at the playground was, “she doesn’t look like a Princess; where’s her dress?” according to a report in The Daily Mail

In all fairness to the children, they were looking forward to a visit from “a real life Princess,” which was what they had been promised by their headmaster (principal) Mr. Miller and deputy headmaster Mr. Murphy.  So they waited in the car park for her arrival.  The little ones especially just couldn’t reconcile modern-day Kate with the stunning Princess they had seen wed prince William a few months earlier on TV.

Still, perhaps it is better that children are taught real life lessons early on.  The bottom line is, everyone is just human and sometimes, even a Princess wants to dress down in a pair of jeans.


Back to Work for Will

Poor old William. Can’t help but feel sorry for him. The guy doesn’t seem to get a break. Well, that’s not quite the story! But just a few days after his wedding, Prince William was back in business. He went to his Anglesey RAF base to resume his work duties. It looks like he’ll be postponing his honeymoon with the new Duchess of Cambridge after all, despite rumors until now that were confirming the opposite.

Even though he’s a Prince, and now a Duke, and indeed (perhaps even more importantly), second in line to the throne, he is still a regular employer who also had to “apply for leave like his colleagues,” and only had a week off for his big day. Hence they will instead honeymoon in a couple of weeks on a tropical retreat where they will be able to have a lot of privacy, according to two officers at Scotland Yard, assigned to the task of checking it out for them. Indeed, their honeymoon destination is so secret, that it is said even Kate isn’t aware of where they will be headed.

Monarch Marches On

But at least William was in good company. He was not alone in his responsibilities. HRH The Queen was back at work just days after the big event too. She visited Newmarket, Cambridge in an official capacity. So this probably shows that when there’s work to be done, it doesn’t matter who you are; the UK can only take off one day – which it did on the occasion of the wedding – even for royalty.

Key Ingredients to a Happy Marriage?

William and Kate’s Wedding Feast

Of course it was going to be great food at Prince William’s British royal wedding. There was never any doubt about that. But what was in question was exactly what was to be served, and perhaps more importantly, the cake, the cake!

It was very traditional – British – food that was served at the wedding, including bubble and squeak (this is a dish comprising any vegetables you have leftover from a roast dinner that are then fried with mashed potatoes and often served with any remaining roast from a traditional Sunday dinner; it makes a sort of bubble and squeak sound as its cooked).

In addition, over 10,000 canapes were consumed, made with ingredients from throughout the entire United Kingdom. This included: Cornish crab salad on lemon blini; quails’ eggs; goats’ cheese roulade with caramelized walnuts and Scottish smoked salmon roes on beetroot blini. Quite a feast indeed.

Other key ingredients on Royal chef Mark Flanagan’s list were: duck; watercress; asparagus, chipolatas, haddock, asparagus – and, in keeping with the best of UK tradition – Yorkshire pudding with roast beef.

On a Sweeter Note

For those with a sweet tooth, they weren’t going to leave disappointed either. They were privy to a “rhubarb crème brulee tartlet, passion fruit praline and chocolate ganache truffle.”

But then what about the cake? Well, since the two young sweethearts clearly couldn’t agree, two cakes were made – one traditional (Kate’s choice) and the other, perhaps not quite so traditional, but maybe very in line with treats that William grew up on. Kate got her eye-stopper: made by Fiona Cairns (a somewhat rags-to-riches story), it was a multi-tiered fruit cake decorated with sugar flowers. She made the cake in Buckingham Palace but then got stuck on the icing that just didn’t seem to do it for her. So the icing was created elsewhere.
As for William, he got his McVitie’s. But it didn’t quite look like the rich tea biscuits you find in the store. It was a four-tiered square chocolate cake, adorned with water lilies, milk and white chocolate feathers, milk chocolate leaves and a whole slew of crushed rich tea biscuits.
So perhaps this gives us more than a lesson on just food. Maybe William and Kate – who really do look extremely happy – have the key ingredients to a happy marriage; if you can’t agree on something, you don’t have to; you should both be happy with what you get and get one each!