February 23, 2011

Dragobete, Romanian Day of Lovers

"DRAGOBETE" is a traditional Romanian holiday, considered the first day of spring and celebrated on February 24.   It is known also as " the day when the birds are getting engaged/ ziua cand pasarile se logodesc" or the "Romanian's day of lovers/ ziua indragostitilor la romani", when Romanians celebrate the ancient love day, the rebirth of nature and the symbol of protection against diseases.

Dragobete, Romanian's day of lovers/ ziua indragostitilor la romani

In post-communist Romania it is also celebrated Valentine Day on February 14th, especially by youth, but older people considered Valentine Day as an imported American holiday and try to maintain alive the "Dragobete" roots, tradition and symbol.

Dragobete, the day when the birds are getting engaged

Anyhow, the Romanian "Dragobete" is a positive character originated from Romanian folklore considered symbol of pure love or the Romanian counterpart of Greek "Eros".  "Dragobete", named also "Dragomir", was the son of Baba Dochia (a Daco-Thracian tale said that Dochia was the sister of Decebal, the Dacian ruler). Dochia  was taken her sheep and her son up in the mountains to seek refuge from the invasion of the Romans. Although she carried 12 lambskins when runs away in the mountains, she looses them and freezes, latter being metamorphosed into a stream. Her son, Dragobete, was a hansom guy, lover of wild nature, who liked to kiss girls ;-)

First Love/ Prima Iubire - Gobelin after Springtime by Pierre Auguste Cot, Dragobete gift
First Love/ Prima Iubire - Gobelin  after "Springtime" by Pierre Auguste Cot,  my "Dragobete" gift

If  would have to believe the legend, these days would be sunny and warm, the birds will sing cheerfully starting to mate and to build their nests, the bears are stepping out from their dens and people celebrate love, some of them performing ancient magic rituals, others getting flowers and warm feeling to the loved ones.

In Romanian villages the traditions was changed over the time, but in rural communities young boys and girls still gather early in the morning and spend the day in nature, picking spring flowers, nettles or other herbs, and the boys are kissing girls saying "Dragobetele kisses girls / Dragobetele saruta fetele". Women collect morning dew from flowers (also called "the fairies smile") or clean snow and with the obtained pure water wash their face, to have a soft skin and to be lovable all the year.

A nontraditional custom said that if you step on your partner’s foot on Dragobete, you will be the one to lead the relationship ;-) - but it is just a teaser of lovers.
So, let's celebrate "Dragobete", the Romanian Day of Lovers and let's enjoy the next collage of Romanian traditional dances, masterfully danced by "Doina Oltului Romanian Folk Ensemble/ Ansamblul Popular Doina Oltului"


W.B. said...

That sounds like such a lovely celebration. :)

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