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Valentines Day Blossoming

Heart-shaped scandals of the kalyna berries

By Kalina BethanyPublished 2 months ago Updated 2 months ago 4 min read
Valentines Day Blossoming
Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

The pet store was a vibrant scene as I walked in to grab a bag of cat food, plus a few unnecessary things.

A cat of armoured black with a white breastplate was roaming about, not often seen but would be lovely to adopt indeed.

By Chewy on Unsplash

A merchant came to grab my things as I paced about aimlessly, freeing up my arms to buy more things.

A birthday card and two pink mice later, all handed to the friendly feminine face with long cedar hair and an accent of roots not from here.

“Do you have a phone number with us?”

I returned with a “Yes” and a multi-pitched response, as if each number was prescribed a different tone in my head like the dialing of phones and landlines.

“Kalina? Did I say that right?”

“You did, indeed! Though many are afraid to attempt saying anything, so I applaud your bravery.”

“Well, I am from the Ukraine so it is very familiar to me.”

“Oh yes, that is where it originates! Along with Polish influence, I believe. A flower of sorts or a cranberry to eat.”

“Close, but it’s actually a fruit-bearing tree representing a young woman of beauty in deep love, which you must be full of dear! It’s even shaped like a heart, to show this off visually.”

She proceeded to search the plant and share a screen of this beautiful masterpiece of a tree representing me - Kalina.

By Anton Shcherbakov on Unsplash

Leaving the building I found myself holding my stomach as if it were growing a baby, promising the cashier I'd remember the importance of the origin of a name when choosing my own child’s - eventually.

Research revealed that this plant belongs to the same family as the snowball tree - a “guelder rose” or viburnum opulus formally, although not exactly the same thing (1).

One flower is sterile, meaning unpollinated and without fertilizer - used to attract bees and similar creatures to the non-sterile rose family (3).

By Lana Svet on Unsplash

Passionate love of a beautiful maiden” is what Russia refers to the kalina (калина) fruit tree (2).

In Ukraine, the rose depicts another word for the hymen - so to lose a wreath (of kalyna), or to ‘break the kalyna’, meant to lose one's virginity (1). How scandalous indeed - especially for the unmarried women when these stories first came to be historically.

By Beatriz Miller on Unsplash

Today, there are folks like Pink Floyd using the species to inspire music lyrics, while the historic Ukrainian songOi U Luzi Chervona Kalyna” speaks of it to get through hardship and war:

Oh, in the meadow red viburnum bent down

For some reason, our glorious Ukraine is distressed.

Chorus (repeat two times):

But we will raise that red viburnum!

And we will cheer our glorious Ukraine up, hey-hey!

Do not bend low, oh red viburnum, you have a white flower,

Do not worry, glorious Ukraine, you have free people.

Chorus (repeat two times):

But we will raise that red viburnum!

And we will cheer our glorious Ukraine up, hey-hey!

Marching forward, our fellow volunteers, into a bloody fray,

To free our brother Ukrainians from Moscow shackles.

Chorus (repeat two times):

But we will raise that red viburnum!

And we will cheer our glorious Ukraine up, hey-hey!

When the stormy wind blows forth from the wide steppes,

Then it will glorify the Sich riflemen throughout Ukraine.

Chorus (repeat two times):

But we will raise that red viburnum!

And we will cheer our glorious Ukraine up, hey-hey!

By Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash

There are other stories of heartbreak and strife belonging to this flowering type, but in the spirit of love this week I thought it best to keep it light.

I do believe your meaning becomes something of you - for me, it involves researching agroforestry policy with the Canadian government, in order to plant more fruit-bearing trees such as the kalyna in vulnerable communities.

By Cole Keister on Unsplash

Who knows, if my name was Bethany as originally supposed, how the future would unfold.


Copyright © 2023 by Kalina Bethany. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading this Valentine’s Day story about the lovemaking tree. (A day or two late as I forgot to celebrate, being without a mate).

Appreciate you leaving a tip and subscribing using the button below. You can also check out some of my other work while here - it's FREE to read and the support is sincerely appreciated ♥️


  1. The Free Library. “The kalyna in Ukrainian folk medicine & folklore..” Orysia, T. (2006). Retrieved Feb 15 2024 from
  2. A Stamp A Day. “The Guelder Rose.” Jochim, M. (2018). Retrieved Feb 15 2024 from
  3. The Gardenist. “PLANT OF THE WEEK #94: Viburnum opulus…” Awramenko, A. (2022).


About the Creator

Kalina Bethany


Constantly seeking new adventures.

A passionate writer of the non-fiction, personal, novel and surreal.

Subscribe, leave a tip and explore these written journeys with me!

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Comments (3)

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  • Moe Radosevich2 months ago

    very nice read my friend, I understand mate less and I understand the exuberance in the discovery of originations, very well done and if I may, a belated Happy Valentine Day ❤️

  • Really fascinating!

  • Alex H Mittelman 2 months ago

    Great work! Well written ♥️

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