Traditions24 February 2024

Dragobetele or the Romanian Valentine’s Day

The God of love in the Romanian culture and tradition



"The Dragobete love" is a typical example of the loss of identity of the ancestral festivals in reality. Thus, under the mercantile empire, Romanians have discovered after 1989, among other Western holiday’s days, also the famous feast of St. Valentine, the day of love, of the lovers. Occasion, of course, for gifts, trade, profit, etc. Puritans and, especially, the guardians of tradition rebelled ad they remembered that we also have such a god-like, namely, the Dragobete.

Except that, unfortunately, it is a kind of forgotten god, because rarely can find an old person who remember and recount of "how was held the Dragobete". And also, tradition says that, long time ago, boys and girls use to go into the forest to collect spring flowers (snowdrops, violets, fumariaceae, etc.).

Usually this was done by young people "who spoke", ie those who, with the consent of the parents, "were together" for a long time, sometimes for years. From the forest, the girls were leaving earlier than the boys, gaining a considerable advance. Then suddenly they began to run and the boys ran back to them. If a girl was caught by her boyfriend (leaving the course, on purpose) then it meant that in the autumn of that year the two will get married.

A touching and beautiful screenplay, consisting of moral and social signs of a different time and a different kind of love. Dragobete is therefore the mythical embodiment of love for Romanian, as well as Cupid in th Roman mythology and Eros in the Greek mythology.


Therefore, this day is called the day of "The Engagement", "The birds accompanying" or "The birds wedding." According to popular belief, birds gather in flocks now, "courting", in an indescribable turmoil and, until the end, they’ll find their pair. Together they build the nest in which to grow their offspring. According to the same beautiful legend, the birds that do not find their pair now, they remain single until next year.

Also for Dragobete, in the traditional Romanian space, they use to make swings (scrîncioburi) in the tree branches, where the girls were put and driven by the boys, while the boys made their declarations and promises of love. Also, on this day, older women use to gather a particular plant root called Christmas rose, commonly used in folk medicine.

The women use to go into the forest to collect clean snow, which then melted and used only at certain times of the year, considering in this way that their face will always be young and beautiful. It was always a non-working day. Who would dare to work on this day he would be punished for "ciricăie" like birds, for a whole year.


Gheorghe Sechesan




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