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Russia celebrates Day of Married Love and Family Happiness

MUROM, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - More than 20 Russian regions from Moscow to Vladivostok celebrated on Tuesday the Day of Married Love and Family Happiness, the deputy chief of the holiday's organization committee said.

The holiday "is not intended to replace Valentine's Day, it is about reviving traditions," Tatyana Shumova said.

The committee set up to organize celebrations, led by Russia's first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, has chosen chamomile as the event's emblem, widely used in Russia to tell fortunes.

The holiday is marked on the day of Saints Peter and Fevronia, the Orthodox patron saints of marriage and family life.

A 16th-century tale recounts how Prince Peter, who ruled the Russian city of Murom in the 13th century, had his leprosy cured by Fevronia, a young peasant woman. The prince at first broke his promise to marry her, but in the end they got married.

Peter and Fevronia are said to have died in the same hour on July 8, 1228. As Peter was a monk, they were buried separately, but their bodies were later found in the same grave. They were canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1547.

Murom, a historic city some 300 km (185 miles) east of Moscow, will be the center of the festivities. The city has a long history of celebrating the saints' day, including by the traditional exchange of "fevronki," a local version of Valentine's Day heart-shaped cards.

Authorities in Murom will inaugurate a statue of Peter and Fevronia in front of the city's registry office.

As part of its celebrations, Moscow will open a bench of conciliation - intended to help people in love to overcome disputes - and a bench of love, giving bronze wings and halos to the couple sitting on it.

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