Winter is a season that chills the bones but warms the heart. Starting in December with holidays of giving presents and love that worm even the coldest cell in your body and ending with February the month of old love renewed and new love confessed.
In the second month of the year we seek the touch of the sun and the sweetness of flowers in expectance of spring. For that we celebrate February as a month of love with gifts of fragrant flowers and sweets.
Although in Romania love is celebrated today the western way, on the 14th of February on Valentine’s Day, for those Romanians that still follow the old ways, February 14th is the day St. Valentine is celebrated according to the orthodox calendar and as always on the day of a saint they do not do laundry or sew or knit and embroid.
Every year on the 24th of February the Romania people celebrate their own festival of love, Dragobete. The word is close to the Romanian word for love or dear (dragoste=love; drag= dear). The word has many explanations and pronunciations (Slavic =Glavo Orteia ; Romania = Vlagobete, Bragobete etc. ) but it’s origin might come from the Romanian ancestors, the Dacians. The Dacian language and mythology is not that accessible today, but there are words that can be traced back in time, just like the name Dragobete that can be associated to the dacian words tragu (billy goat) and pede (feet). Historians think that this could have been an ancient Dacian deity with the feet of a goat, probably like a faun.
Traditionally Dragobete is celebrated on the 24th of February (on the orthodox calendar “The first and second findings of the Honorable Head of St. John the Forerunner”) as the end of winter (Head of Spring), when all animals and birds prepare to mate. In the folkloric tradition boys and girls weren’t allowed to spend to much time together as it was considered immoral, so on this day it was permitted and even encouraged to chat, joke and dance together. It is a day of celebration with music and dance, and it is said that after the party many couples that dance together on that day will end up married.
On this day nature is reborn, the day becomes longer, the people are more active and in sync with nature, it is considered a wedding of the nature. The girls and boys dress up in their best clothes and meet up in front of the church and from there they go in the forest to look for early spring flowers like snowdrops and raspberry flowers, from which the girls will make bouquets that they will pin to the blouse of their crush. They will make promises to their friends that they will be by their side all year and embrace each other friendly. At midday the girls will come running back in the village followed behind by the boys, and if a boy catches up with a girl he likes and the feeling is mutual, they will kiss there in the eyes of the whole village. At night they will circle a bonfire and tell stories, embrace and kiss, sing and dance lighting up the night and waking up nature.
On this special day field work is not allowed, nor are chores around the house. The house must be clean, the animals groomed, and husbands and wives must not argue. The night before, girls will gather clean snow and let it melt during the night, and in the morning they will wash their face with it as they say that that is the water of fairies and it will make them beautifully. The water that is left will be used during the year for spells and love potions. Boys and girls must kiss on this day so they may be loved all year and maybe just like the blooming nature their love can bloom like a beautiful flower.
All this romantic and joyful celebration is complimented by the beautiful scenery that Romania has to offer like the picturesque villages, beautiful mountains, romantic castles and many other places that await discovery.
To all you romantics and why not to all you lone wolves that are in love with beauty we extend this invitation to Romania, where love is at home and where the soul is at peace.
To find Dragobete we recommend this vacation options: Bucharest – Green City Tour, Bucharest – Surroundings Tour, Bucharest – Party weekend, Brasov – Dracula and Castles Tour, Transylvania – Magic Land Tour.
Photos sources: ilamoga.com, FB-Colecţia-de-artă-populară-Silvia-Floarea-Tóth