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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

St. Valentine's Day Is Catching On

APTwo women trudging through heavy snow Wednesday while toting Valentine's Day presents in Vladivostok.
St. Valentine's Day, little celebrated or even understood in this country just a decade ago, has now won over more than half of the population.

In a survey conducted by the independent Levada Center, 58 percent of respondents said they considered St. Valentine's Day to be a holiday. Forty percent said they planned to celebrate with their sweethearts.

The lovers' holiday was observed across the country: in Kaliningrad, a 12-meter-long bench for smooching was set up by local officials; a giant heart was erected in a park in Barnaul; and in Sochi, 4,000 people came together in an enormous, simultaneous kiss, Itar-Tass reported.

Not everyone is quite so enamored of St. Valentine's Day, however.

"It's a holiday from another culture," said State Duma Deputy Andrei Savelyev, a member of the nationalist Rodina faction. "It shouldn't be celebrated. What is happening now is quite strange."

In Moscow, the trappings of the holiday were everywhere to be seen. Restaurants and cafes were decorated with red, heart-shaped balloons and ribbons. In one coffee shop, a waiter wore a pair of red angel wings especially for the day.

Anyone with a dislike for such sentimental stuff was not safe underground, either. Loudspeakers in the metro, which are usually reserved for paid advertising and safety warnings, played an array of popular romance tunes and poetry Tuesday evening and all day Wednesday.

The St. Valentine's Day tribute in the metro was initiated last year, a metro employee who declined to give her name said.