A Romanian Celebration of Love
Love, the force that sets fire to young hearts, has a day of its own in the Romanian folk
calendar. It is February 24-th when Dragobete, a sort of Valentine’s Day, is celebrated. It is an early spring day not by accident, chosen by the time birds begin to find a mate. Probably, their nuptial danses inspired the people who felt that springtime, a time of rebirth for the entire nature, is also the time of young love. Boys and girls meet on this day to make their love last the whole year, as does the love of the birds that get “engaged” now.
This is how a Dragobete Day goes on in the villages of the southern part of our country .
At dawn, boys and girls in their Sunday clothes join each other and the groups walk singing and shouting with joy to the forrest or to the nearest river, if the weather is good. The girls pick up spring flowers, mostly snowdrops, and the boys gather fire wood. Girls also bring water from unmelted snow or from wild strawberry flowers because it is said that it comes from the fairies’s smiles and it has magic powers. They wash their faces with this water in order to become more beautiful and then all the youngsters meet by the fire that boys have built.
By noon, they go running towards the village, each boy chasing the girl of his dreams (even if more than one boy chase the same girl, she makes sure she only gets caught by the one she chooses). If the boy manages to catch the girl, he kisses her in front of everyone. This is seen as a kind of engagement and is very often followed by a real one.