By Nilay Kar Onum
Hundreds of couples chose Valentine’s Day to tie the knot across Turkey, while some romantics took the opportunity to pop the big question.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated with cards, flowers, and chocolates but it has roots with a third-century priest in Rome who performed secret marriages for young people.
Martyred by the Roman Emperor Claudius II in 270 A.D., St. Valentine is honored by Christian churches every year.
However, across the world, also in Turkey, young couples have developed a fashion for getting married or surprise proposals on the day.
Dozens of couples flocked to the marriage office of Bagcilar municipality in Istanbul in early hours of Feb. 14 to tie the knot.
The number of couples getting married has quadrupled in the district.
Forty-seven couples were married Thursday, compared to other days, when approximately 12 couples were married, according to Erdogan Damgabasi, head of Bagcilar Municipality Marriage Directorate.
Every 5 minutes a couple was married, Damgabasi said. “The young people are choosing this day. I wish them happiness.”
“We were lucky that we could have found a place to get married here,” said Aslihan Gurel Donmez, a bride who was recently married.
“For a lifetime we will remember and celebrate our marriage,” she added.
In western Bursa province, one couple chose a special time on Valentine’s Day.
Talat and Tugce Basar, who have been working at the same factory for two years, tied the knot at 14.14 p.m. local time [1114GMT] in the Osmangazi district.
“We especially wanted to get married at this time; 14.14 pm. Mayor of Bursa solemnized our wedding. We are very excited,” said Talat Basar.
Fourteen couples from the Black Sea province of Karabuk preferred Valentine’s Day to marry.
Ahmet Emre Ocel: “We have been waiting for this day for years. We’ve especially arranged our ceremony on this day.”
In eastern Turkish cities of Sanliurfa, Malatya, Adiyaman, and Kahramanmaras, 139 couples flocked to marriage offices.
Abdullah Cicek from southeastern Sanliurfa province was happy to get married on the “special day”.
“I cannot describe the happiness that I have. It is a very special and nice day for me,” Cicek told reporters after his marriage ceremony.
In southeastern Mardin province, Polish Aneta Dominiczak (22) and Sedat Adal (23), who met in southern Antalya province last year, also chose Valentine’s Day to get married.
“We’ve specially chosen this day to marry. We are very happy. It is a very good feeling,” Adal told.
Love has no boundaries
A hearing-impaired couple in northeastern Ordu province chose Feb. 14 to get married.
Ugur Urfa and Zeliha Sencar, who met on social media two years ago, recently decided to get married on Valentine’s Day and did with a ceremony held in Unye district.
“We have been together for two years. We are very happy that our marriage coincided with Valentine’s Day,” Urfa told Anadolu Agency.
Disabled couples in Istanbul celebrated the day with boat tours in one of the city’s iconic sights: Bosphorus.
One hundred and twenty-five married couples enjoyed the day singing songs and cutting cakes.
Stating they have been married for 30 years and had 2 children, Zeynep Okutan said: “I love my husband. Married couples should not lose their love and respect for each other. Such days are special. Love never has boundaries.”
Turkey has the fourth-highest marriage rate among European countries with 7.1 nuptials per 1,000 people in 2017, Eurostat said Thursday on the occasion of Valentine's Day.
The highest marriage rate was in Albania with 7.9 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants. This was followed by Lithuania (7.5) and Romania (7.3).
The marriage rate used here is the crude marriage rate, defined as the ratio of the number of marriages during the year to the average population in that year.
In Turkey, 569,459 people were married in 2017, down 4.2 percent year-on-year, according to Turkish Statistical Institute.
* Berk Ozkan and Lale Bildiri from Istanbul, Sinan Balcikoca from Bursa, Muslum Etgu from Sanliurfa, Hacer Ozturk from Ordu contributed to the story