"Dragobete" Traditions and Superstitions

Nowadays there is a tendency for more and more Romanian people to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which became the international celebration of love, but “Dragobetele” is the authentic Romanian celebration of love, deeply rooted in the ancestral traditions.

Dragobete

Dragobetele”. History.

Dragobetele”, the Tempestuous or the Fiancé of Birds, as it is also referred to, is a character taken from the ancient Dacians and considered to be the God of love, youth and joy, turned subsequently into the protector of the young and their love.

Dragobetele” is celebrated on 24th of February, date which overlaps in the orthodox calendar with the Finding of the Head of John the Baptist. In the past nevertheless, “Dragobetele” was celebrated on 1st of March, because he was considered to be the son of “Baba Dochia”, a handsome and seductive young man, the opener of a new season – springtime.

"Dragobete" customs and superstitions:

  • Similarly to the Epiphany, another Romanian celebration, it is said that girls place basil under the pillow to dream about their chose one.

  • On the day of "Dragobete", deep friendships are created, promises are made and it is said that in order to have love, girls and boys were ought to touch a person of opposite gender.

  • "Dragobetele" is a celebration in which everybody should participate. On this day, the young ones dress up in the finest clothes, they get together in the village and, if weather allows to, they go for a walk in the forest to pick up the first flowers of spring, that they use for decorating icons or for charms. If weather is gloomy, it rains or it snows, the young ones get together at one’s house, where they start the party and various games.
    Love

  • At the lunch time, girls were running towards the village, and boys were trying to catch them. If one of the girls liked the boy who was after her, they kissed, a symbol for a future engagement, and in the evening the engagement was announced to the entire community. All the people taking part in the celebration of the event were lucky in love the entire year and they were protected against illnesses and hard times.

  • Another tradition for the girls was to gather the untouched snow or rain water, and to use it afterwards to clean their face and hair, considering that they were to become more beautiful and more affectionate.

  • On the day of "Dragobete", men were not ought to fight or upset women, because this would have brought them bad luck in love the entire year.

  • The old people of the village were paying a particular attention to birds and animals, being forbidden to sacrifice them on this day.

  • It is not recommended to cry on the day of “Dragobete” because tears falling on this day bring hard times and sadness.