The History of Valentine's Day Innovations By Mary Bellis

St Valentine's Day has roots in several different legends that have found their way to us through the ages. One of the earliest popular symbols of the Valentine's day is Cupid, the Roman god of love, who is represented by the image of a young boy with bow and arrow. Several theories surround the history of Valentine's Day.

Was There a Real Valentine?

Three hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Roman emperors still demanded that everyone believe in the Roman gods. Valentine, a Christian priest, had been thrown in prison for his teachings. On February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer's daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer's daughter a farewell letter, signing it "From Your Valentine." Another legend tells us that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.

Bishop Valentine?

Another Valentine was an Italian bishop who lived at about the same time, AD 200. He was imprisoned because he secretly married couples, contrary to the laws of the Roman emperor. Some legends say he was burned at the stake.

Feast of Lupercalia

The ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February, held in honor of a goddess. Young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities. With the introduction of Christianity, the holiday moved to the 14th of February. The Christians had come to celebrate February 14 as the saint day that celebrated the several early Christian martyrs named Valentine.

Choosing a Sweetheart on Valentine's Day

The custom of choosing a sweetheart on this date spread through Europe in the Middle Ages, and then to the early American colonies. Throughout the ages, people also believed that birds picked their mates on February 14!

In AD 496 Sain Pope Gelasius I declared February 14 as "Valentine's Day". Although it's not an official holiday, most Americans observe this day.

Whatever the odd mixture of origins, St Valentine's Day is now a day for sweethearts. It is the day that you show your friend or loved one that you care. You can send candy to someone you think is special. Or you can send roses, the flower of love. Most people send "valentine" a greeting card named after the notes that St Valentine received in jail.

Greeting Cards

Probably the first greeting cards, handmade valentines, appeared in the 16th century. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards. Initially these cards were hand-colored by factory workers. By the early 20th century even fancy lace and ribbon-strewn cards were created by machine.

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Saint Valentine's Day, commonly known as Valentine's Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them. Happy valentine to everyone.


Syrian Couple Wins “Longest Married” Award in USA

John and Ann Betar, Syrians live in USA, were married on 25 November 1932, and have been happily married for 80 years. They have five children, 14 grand children and 16 great-grand children.

The couple was selected for 2013 “Longest Married” award in USA out of hundreds couples participated in this competition.

An award ceremony was held, last Saturday, at Connecticut state; home of one of the Betar’s granddaughter.

 “We are very fortunate. It can be repeated and repeated,” Ann, 97, said in a press statement. She added “it is unconditional love and understanding, we are bound to. We consider being awarded with “Longest Married” as a blessing for our long live marriage.”

John, 101, met Ann, 97, while growing up in the same Syrian Community in Connecticut. Breaking with tradition, Ann defied her parents when they set up an arranged marriage for her. She ran off to New York to elope with John. Now, she says she knows she made the right choice.

This competition is yearly organized to promote the virtues of lasting marriages and inspire young couples.


Ibrahim Zaaboub

Samara braces for 2018 World Cup

Samara, one of the 11 Russia cities that will host 2018 FIFA World Cup events, has altered its initial host bid plan by moving the future stadium outside its historical center.

The 45,000-seat $400-million new sports arena was initially meant to be built on the bank of the River Samara where it flows into the Volga, but that part of the city abounds in historical and architectural monuments dating from the 16th -19th centuries. To avoid exposing them to unnecessary risks, the authorities decided to move construction to a wasteland where a radio center once stood, according to Voice of Russia.

Samara has hosted many football events before, both domestic and international events, deputy head of the local football federation Sergei Marushko told reporters.

"This year, we hosted the national Super Cup match between Zenit (St. Petersburg) and Rubin (Kazan). And last year, we launched our first under-15 international tournament, the Volga Gates. We had Chelsea, Marseille, Espanyol, and other clubs competing here."

The key fan zone will be Kuybyshev Square, the largest square in Europe, sprawling across 17.4 hectares. It was named after prominent Soviet politician Valerian Kuibyshev.

In between the matches, fans may entertain themselves by touring a real bunker. Built during in 1942 and located at 37 meters underground, it was meant as a reserve hideout for the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during World War II, says Emma Khazanova, a local guide.

"In 1942, our city was a reserve capital. The government was here and Stalin himself was expected to come. A bunker was built for him at a depth of 37 meters. After the war, the city became a space capital. The first carrier rockets were produced in Samara, including the one on which the world’s first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin travelled to space."

Samara is also famous for its aircraft plant producing the Tupolev airliners.

In 2014, the local Kurumoch airport will be revamped to receive passenger and cargo planes of all types and sizes. The airport currently handles regular and charter flights from Paris, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Pathos, Varna, Prague, and Dubai as well as from former Soviet republics. There is also a large river port from which boats will take football fans to nearly all the other cities hosting 2018 World Cup events.


New Facebook app to track offline users – report

Those concerned about Facebook’s controversial privacy policies may have yet another reason to worry. The social network is reportedly developing a smartphone application which will track the location of its users – even when the app isn’t running.

The app is scheduled to be released in mid-March, two anonymous sources told Bloomberg.

It’s allegedly designed to help users find nearby friends by revealing those friends’ locations. But unlike Facebook’s current mobile app, which allows users to let others know where they are by “checking in” at a location, the new app would continuously follow the user once the program is activated.

The app would track user whereabouts in the “background” of Apple’s mobile operating system – even when the app isn’t open on the phone, one of the sources said. It remains unclear whether the app will run on other platforms.

It’s a technique that would likely require the social networking site to ask permission from users. But there’s a loophole – Facebook may have already gotten consent from its users to run the feature.

The app may fall under Facebook’s data policy – which tells users that a company may use location information “to tell you and your friends about people or events nearby, or to offer deals to you that you might be interested in.”

“When we get your GPS location, we put it together with other location information we have about you (like your current city)…but we only keep it until it is no longer useful to provide you services, like keeping your last GPS coordinates to send you relevant notifications,” the data use policy says.

The app isn’t drastically different from current applications, such as Apple’s “Find My Friends” and Math Camp Inc.’s “Highlight,” which constantly track user locations to help people find friends or places of interest.

When approached by Bloomberg to speak about the tracking application, Facebook Spokesman Derick Mains declined to comment.

Based on past precedents, the new app is bound to raise concern from users who value their privacy.

Facebook is no stranger to controversy surrounding its privacy settings. The site has already been under fire from US and European regulators, who claim it doesn’t do enough to keep user data private.

In early January, the EU pressured internet giants such as Facebook to boost personal security controls and limit the collection of data without users’ consent.

Last September, the site was forced to stop using its facial recognition software in Europe following an investigation by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland.

And now, the social network’s new “Graph Search” system – which is waiting to be tested – is raising red flags.

The system is designed to search Facebook for very specific information, such as ‘Friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter’ and ‘Languages my friends speak.’

But after using the system, computer programmer and ‘Gadget Geek’ Tom Scott found the program can conduct much juicier searches.

For instance, it will easily find ‘Married people, who like prostitutes’ or ‘Current employers of people who like racism,’ Scott revealed in a blogpost.

News of the location tracking app comes less than one week after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg emphasized the need for new mobile products during Facebook’s Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call, which was broadcast on the internet.

“A lot of what we had to do last year was simply to improve our mobile development process…the next thing we’re going to do is get really good at building new mobile-first experiences,” Zuckerberg said during the call.

And while this may, indeed, be a “mobile-first experience,” it remains unclear whether it’s an experience that Facebook users will actually want.

Source: RT


The Poorest president in the world, donates 90% of salary to charity

Usually presidents are not associated with poverty. But the President of Uruguay, José Mujica, has earned the nickname of the “poorest,” or the “most generous,” president in the world — depending on how you see things— after revealing that he donates 90 percent of his earnings, to charitable causes.

In a recent interview, Mujica told Spain’s El Mundo that he earns a salary of $12,500 a month, but only keeps $1,250 for himself, donating the rest to charity.

The president said that the only big item he owns is his VW car, valued at $1,945 dollars. The farmhouse in which he lives in Montevideo is under his wife’s name, Lucía Topolansky, a Senator, who also donates part of her salary.

“I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less,” the president told El Mundo.

The 77-year-old Mujica is a former guerilla leader, who fought against Uruguay’s military regimes in the 1970s. He was also Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries from 2005 to 2008 and afterwards, served as a senator.

Later on, as presidential candidate for the Broad Front, the left-wing coalition, Mujica won the 2009 election becoming Uruguay’s president on March 1, 2010.

Uruguay is the second smallest nation in South America by area, after Suriname. However it is one of the most developed countries on the continent, with a GDP per capita of $15,656. That’s less than half of United States’ GDP per capita, but it triples earnings in Honduras which has a GDP per capita of just $4,345. Under Mujica’s stewardship, Uruguay has become known for low levels of corruption. The South American country ranks as the second least corrupt country in Latin America in Transparency International’s global corruption index.

Uruguay also made it to the world cup 2010 semi-finals while Mujica was in office, and the country won the South American Soccer championships in 2011, stunning tournament hosts Argentina, in a memorable performance by striker Diego Forlan.

It seems therefore, that it’s a good time to be Jose Mujica. Without bank accounts, and with few debts, Mujica told El Mundo that he sleeps peacefully. When his term is over, the President hopes to rest even more peacefully in his farmhouse, along with his wife and his inseparable dog, Manuela.