Sept 12, 2007 — -- Valentine's Day is still months away, but the Russian province of Ulyanovsk is celebrating a day just for lovers.
Wednesday is officially conception day.
"Almost all civil servants will stay at home," explained the region's governor, Sergei Morozov. "I hope they devote themselves to their children and to their partners."
Officials are hoping Ulyanovsk citizens will get a little amorous so that nine months from today on June 12, new babies will arrive just in time for the holiday known as Russia Day.
All couples who successfully procreate will receive prizes such as a refrigerator or television as a thank you for assisting Russia with a countrywide effort --reversing the nation's population decline.
Lovers' day highlights a serious concern for the Russian government. Last year, President Vladimir Putin called the population decline the country's most acute crisis and announced a broad effort to boost the birth rate, according to The Associated Press.
He greenlighted cash subsidies for couples with more than one child and $10,000 vouchers to pay for education or home repairs for families who welcome second or third children, according to the AP.
Couples preparing for conception day have given local lingerie stores a financial boost. The town hall also has seen an increase in marriages among wannabe parents.
"We will join in," said one blushing bride. "We want to give birth to a patriot. It is supporting our government and our leaders."
As a thank you for welcoming their fourth child on Russia Day this year, local couple the Kartuzovs won an SUV.
This year isn't the first Russian conception day. The first competition was held in 2005, when 311 women participated, according to the AP. The same prizes were offered to couples on Sept. 12, 2006, and 78 babies were born on Russia Day 2007. The number was more than three times the daily average.