Observed annually on February 24th, Dragobete is a Romanian holiday that not only celebrates the beginning of spring but is also used as a day to celebrate love and romance – much like a Romanian St. Valentine’s Day. It is a holiday that is rich in traditions and superstitions and often these vary from region to region.
History of Dragobete
While no one really knows when Dragobete started, it is believed to go back to ancient Romania. In ancient myths, Dragobete is the son of Dochia and is seen as somewhat of a divine god. He was often said to be seen riding a flying white horse during daylight hours and is considered a symbol of spring and light.
It is said that his magical presence could make the trees flower, insects, and birds to multiply, and can turn men and women into lovers. He is the Romanian version of Cupid – bringing love and life with him.
Dragobete Customs & Traditions
A tradition that was practiced extensively in years past, but has died somewhat during modern times, is the Ceremony of Dragobete. On this day, young men and women went into the forest to sing songs and pick flowers. At the stroke of noon, the girls would run as fast as they could back towards the village and the boys would pursue them to try and give the girls a kiss.
If a girl fancied a boy, then she would let him steal a kiss. This act would then be seen as an engagement between the boy and the girl. Later on in the evening, the engagement would then be announced to the entire community. In rural areas of Romania, there are a number of superstitions associated with this holiday.
For instance, single women will gather the last of any snow that may remain and melt it down for various beauty treatments all throughout the year. It is also believed that if men argue or otherwise hurt a woman on this day, then they’ll be cursed all year long. Some Romanians treat this day much in the same way that Americans treat St. Valentine’s Day. They do so by going out on dates, giving each other gifts, and doing things as a couple.