age | e

in front of you in line alphabetically since 2006

Friday, February 16, 2007

cupid's bad rap and other stories

This week has naturally been an ideal time to talk about romance in English class. This morning, for instance, the girls of 4.C gave their male classmates some excellent advice on some of the finer points of feet off-sweeping. Some students from 4.D shared some romantic stories, and all this week, Mr. Agee's classes have been trying out the latest Valentine's craze, speed dating.

In case you haven't heard of it or seen it on TV or in movies like Hitch, speed dating is a way to meet lots of potential dates all in one crazy night. The idea is that you get exactly three minutes with every person of the opposite sex, trying to impress them and woo them into a "real" date. It doesn't sound like my cup of tea (even if I were still single, which I blissfully am not ;-), but as an English class game it's pretty hilarious---especially when the guys and girls aren't evenly matched and some people have to play opposite genders.

All this talk about romance has also brought out a lot of students' thoughts about Valentine's Day in general. V-Day is a new phenomenon in the Czech Republic that rode in (along with lots of other voices vying for attention and consumption) shortly after the fall of Communism. A lot of Czechs dislike Valentine's Day for this reason, seeing it as an unwanted guest from the West. A lot of my students see Cupid's day as part of American economic and cultural dominance, even though it's local businesses that market the holiday (and even though the celebration comes from 5th century Italy, I believe). Some students are surprised to hear that lots of Americans bemoan the commercialism and the apparent artificiality of the day, too.

It's not that Czechs are against a day for celebrating love and romance. They've got their own traditional date for just that. On May 1st, girls stand under the new cherry blossoms, waiting for a kiss from a husband, boyfriend, father, brother, uncle. It's for good luck and beauty. Incidentally, May 1st is also international Labour Day. So there's plenty of available working men to help get the job done.

There you have it. It's a bit late, but have a Happy Valentine's Day.