I tend to overlook the day of San Valentín as another holiday invented by the card companies, but this year I was refreshed by an expatriate perspective and impressed by my students' take on the holiday for enamorados. Just like in the States, Spain's supermarket shelves are overflowing with the traditional gifts of heart-shaped chocolates and red roses, and store windows are filled with displays of heart-patterned dresses and red high-heels. This weekend I visited a town in Portugal where charming red hearts floated above the streets and another valentine corazón hung on every door. I couldn't help but smile. A heart-filled sky in a sleepy little aldea on a February morning is an agreeable contrast to the candy-stocked shelves of grocery stores on the 26th of December. Wherever you are, whether or not you see it as endearing sentimentality or pushy consumerism, by the 14th of February, Valentine's Day is everywhere!
The Instituto I teach at is also plastered with colored paper hearts, but in addition to little piropos they include delightfully positive (and sometimes humorous) messages about love and friendship.
This poster was done by my students in primero del ESO (around the age of middle schoolers). They were really excited to work on it and I think they came up with some nice thoughts for everyone. Here is a quick translation:
If you love me...
...don't shout at me
...don't insult me
...don't ignore me
...don't hit me
...don't rape me
...don't hit me
I love you...
...with dignified work
In the same grade level we listened to the lyrics of the song Valentine, by Kina Grannis, and wrote valentine cards for friends, family, and cute classmates. These were some of my favorites:
"You're sweaty, but I love you"
"Best friend forevah!"
When I asked my student if she knew what "sweaty" meant, she replied, "sí, sudar" (yes, to sweat), so, having fulfilled my educational duty, if she's okay with it, so am I!
My older students came up with some equally hopeful Valentines that say things like "Thanks for helping me think out loud" and "There are lots of acquaintances, but true friends are rare."
Everyone loves a dirty pun! The literal translation for this would be "I want my tongue in your mouth!" which plays with the double entendre that the word "tongue" could either imply enthusiasm for the Galego language, or demand a French kiss!
And for all of the non-linguists and non-sentimentalists out there...
...a heart made of meat.