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…

Interesting Nutritious Food for Toddlers

With the incidence of obesity and diabetes on the increase, many organizations in the UK are realizing how important it is to provide healthy, nutritious meals for kids in preschools to start the education early. The National Day Nurseries Association, the National Child-minding Association and the Pre-School Learning Alliance are backing the School Food Trust program that is implementing nutritious food programs for the kids.  So what will be happening is that chicken nuggets and fish fingers won’t be welcome on the menu anymore.  New nutrition guidelines will be put in place and food such as risotto, vegetable stew and tuna. 

The UK Government has backed these guidelines.  Currently, preschools are spending a very small amount of money – around 30 cents – on each child’s meal.  Research has (not surprisingly) shown that only one third of parents are satisfied with the food their children are receiving.

Healthy Snacks

Once on the subject of healthy, nutritious food for kids, snacks have been brought under the limelight as well.  For example, instead of granola bars that are mainly chocolate-based, or potato chips, vegetable sticks, rice-cakes and fruit are being suggested as a replacement. 

One of the reasons this scheme is being implemented is because kids are just not getting the appropriate food which means they are not consuming energy-rich foods or enough vitamins and minerals.  The plan has received the full backing of Sarah Teather, the Children’s Minister and Lib-Dem MP.

A Dog with a Happy “Tale”

Or, that should really be, two dogs with two happy tails.  Only two eyes though – between the two dogs – since one of them relies 100 percent on the other one to be her eyes, as she doesn’t have any.  That is why when they ended up in a shelter in England as their owner was unable to take care of them.

The two Great Danes – 7-year-old Maddison (who has both eyes) and 6-year-old Lily (who is eye-less), ended up in Telford, UK, at the Shrewsbury Dogs Trust Care.  The shelter thereafter sent out a request looking for a good home for both of these dogs, figuring it would be pretty bad to separate them, especially as Lily’s handicap had rendered her totally dependent on Maddison.  But the shelter was somewhat concerned about finding a good home, as taking care of such a dog without eyes would not be an easy feat. 

The shelter was thus shocked and delighted that the response was so incredibly overwhelming!  Indeed, thousands of individuals made contact with the shelter, asking to take on both of the dogs.  Much research and investigative work was carried out and Len and Anne Williams were chosen for the task. The couple intends to take the dogs on long walks and even on their vacations to France!

British Women Need to Lose Weight

It seems that heaviness is becoming quite a weighty issue in Great Britain.  According to a recent EU report, a staggering 23.9 percent of British women are obese – the highest amount of all 19 countries that took part in the study.  As well, British men need to get off their proverbial couches too.  They’re not exactly doing all that well either, with more than 22 percent of them being in the same category – only Malta was slightly above them.

The study looked at the 2008-9 period and found that the entire European adult population was extremely overweight, with women ranging from 8 to 23.9 percent and men from 7.6 to 24.7 percent. There was no major finding of obesity between men and women – in some countries men were heavier and in others, women.  It was only in Greece where the men and women were just as obese.  Romania had what to be proud of though – with only 8 percent of its adult population tipping the scales into obesity.

It seems that as people get older, the obesity issue gets worse (and this is even more true with the female population).  But in the UK, it seems that the younger generation is battling the bulge more, with over 16 percent of the 18 to 24 age group being put into the obese category.

Varicose Veins Valediction?

Can we finally say goodbye to varicose veins? If so, is there a chance that the process will not have to be so invasive? Apparently so and it will be available to Brits through the NHS, rendering it a financially pain-free process too. ClariVein works by putting a catheter and drug in the vein with only the use of a local anesthetic. This means you can do it as an outpatient – no overnight hospital stay is required. First offered by a consultant vascular surgeon (Eddie Chaloner) in the UK privately a year ago, NHS patients in Lewisham can now get it too.

Around 30 percent of British adults suffer from varicose veins (usually on the legs and feet) due to a cessation of operation of the small valves in the veins rendering the blood to flow backwards, assembling in the veins, leading to swelling and often pain.

Until recently, the way to deal with this was with a “high tie and strip” operation, in use for the last century, with a general anesthetic, cutting the groin “before the vein is literally stripped out of the leg,” which could lead to pain, bruising, wound infection and then a recovery time of around six weeks. As well, it is estimated that around 30 percent of those who have this operation will probably need it again around five years later.

Other treatments have been used, only requiring a local anesthetic but still have problems since it utilizes “multiple injections of fluid and anesthetic around the vein in the leg, which some patients find sore. There is usually some bruising and there's a small risk of damage from the laser heat to the nerves close to the vein.” This new technique on the other hand won’t cause any nerve damage since it doesn’t need heat to seal the vein or require lots of injections, rendering the procedure “literally painless for the patient.” Simply, a small incision on top of or beneath the vein is made to insert the thin catheter that’s attached to a motorized hand piece. Spinning at around 3,500 revolutions per minute, the catheter causes the vein to collapse by damaging it a little bit and all the patient senses is a buzzing. Following this Fibro-Vein is sprayed into the vein which then seals it. The whole process only takes around 20 minutes.

So this really is a good solution. And it will certainly make many Britons happy that they won’t have to foot the bill for the procedure either.

Middleton’s Middle of Road Life?


Retail Therapy for Royal-To-Be


Who’s to say that Kate Middleton has to give up her regular life?  With just over a week to her big day, the royal-to-be was trying to enjoy a regular day out shopping, spotted in London’s King’s Road engaging in a bit of retail therapy.  And good for her.  It looked like she only had a couple of protection officers with her, with one of them in very casual clothing.

Still, there was no mistaking the class of the Queen-in-waiting who was dressed in a short-sleeved black wrap dress priced at £480 from Issa, perhaps not what a regular shopper would be clad in.  As well, her feet were adorned with tan court kitten heels, but these were hardly new as she has been seen in them four years ago!  Of course, her 19-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring might have ultimately been what stood her out from the rest as the royal-to-be that she is.

Who knows what she was buying at Whistles?  Perhaps something for her honeymoon wardrobe; but the store refrained to divulge such information.  She was also spotted in Warehouse, a mid-market chain, engaging in a spot of High Street shopping.  

So Miss Middleton may be about to be a royal, but she still likes her fun girly retail outings like the rest of us.  And why shouldn’t she?  She’s still a girl at heart, no matter what her regal status might be.