Dragobete or the Romanian love day
Dragobete is an old Romanian holiday celebrated every year on the 24th of February. After the fall of the communism, it has become a response festivity to Valentine’s Day, very popular in the western countries, but also borrowed by many young Romanian people.
The legend says Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, a famous character from an old pagan myth related to the arrival of spring and the end of winter. It is the time of the year when birds start building their nests and finding their mates.
In the old times, on this day, young men and women would meet in the centre of the village or in the front of the church and go together to the forest and look for snowdrops, violets or other spring plants. On their way home, the boys would chase after the girls to give them a kiss. If the girl liked the boy, then she would let him kiss her. The message everybody would hear was: Dragobete is kissing the girls (Dragobetele sărută fetele). Being alone on this day was a definite sign of bad luck in love for the rest of the year.
There used to be many other traditions connected to this holiday, such as:
no animals were being sacrificed;
everyone was careful to spend the day with a pair;
people had to look not only after animals, but also after the birds of the sky;
sewing and field work were are not allowed;
men could not be upset with women.
Although modern times and values have replaced the more traditional expressions of the past centuries, Dragobete remains one of the most authentic Romanian traditions and a reminder of the need of love in our lives.