Greek island celebrates Valentine's Day with festival to attract tourists

February 16, 2016 12:00 am 

ATHENS, Feb. 15 — The Greek island of solidarity Lesvos in the Aegean Sea, which has attracted the attention of the entire world for being the largest refugee gateway into Europe over the past year, marked Saint Valentine's Day with a two-day festival during this weekend.

The goal of the Municipality of Mytilini, the island's capital, the local Commerce Chambers and tourism associations that organized the event, was to showcase a different romantic side of the homeplace of ancient Greek poet Sappho and Nobel laureate poet Odysseas Elytis (1911-1996).

Couples from all around Greece and the world were invited to marry in Mytilini or celebrate their 25-year, 30-year and 50-year anniversary.

The port which has received thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe in recent months was filled during the weekend with flowers, candy and red hearts, as local artists who performed in love song concerts gave a glimpse of joy to the local community and visitors.

The festival, entitled "Saint Valentine of Mytilene 2016", was also held to commemorate the third century A.D. Saint of the Roman Catholic Church who holds a special place in the hearts of the locals for one extra reason compared to other people in love across the globe: part of Saint Valentine's holy relics are kept in the Church of the Virgin Mary in Mytilene.

So little is known for the history of Saint Valentine, as his life is accompanied by various legends for being the patron of lovers. Born in Italy he died in France and his relics have been scattered across Europe.

Some of the saint's relics reached Mytilene. In 1907 they were found within the Catholic Church of Virgin Mary and were donated to the monks of the church.

They remained there until 1990, when they were transferred to Athens, in the church of the Italian community in Greece's capital, before being returned to Lesvos in 2014. (PNA/Xinhua)

JBP/EBP

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