Today is February 24, Dragobete Day : the Romanian Valentines Day is not just for the birds

Dragobete Day, the Romanian Valentine’s Day, is the day when even the birds get engaged. Another name for it is Logodnicul Pasarilor (Fiancé of Birds).

On this day birds chose their mate and start to build their nest. Dragobete even conducts the wedding ceremony!

The legendary Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, a witch/mother identified with the return of spring.

A foreboding character, she’s been called:

“an old woman who insults the month of March when she goes out with a herd of sheep or goats.”

Dragobete was chosen – according to some sources, by Virgin Mary – to be the Guardian of Love.

Dragobete kisses the girls

Not only do they help you find love, Dragobete customs are supposed to protect from illness, especially fevers, for the rest of the year.

The Dragobete traditional story goes that, dressed in their Sunday best, young men and women meet in front of the church.  They search the woods and meadows for spring flowers.

If girls found wild strawberries they would keep them, saying:

“Wild strawberries

From the month of February

May I be loved by everyone

May all ugliness go away”.

Bonfires were lit on the hills, and at lunchtime, the girls would start running towards the village – a custom named “zburatorit” (flying and running at the same time).

The young men would chase them, and if one of them caught the girl he liked and if the girl liked him back, they would kiss in front of everybody.

To take away a girl’s powers, boys said:

“Your powers,

In my arms!”

or

“My fevers,

On your bones!”

If the “caught” girl had something fresh (grass, buds) on her, the incantation had no effect upon her.

The kiss symbolized a one-year engagement and was a public declaration of love.

Ancient Traditions of Dragobete

You can not cry or complain on Dragobete Day. Tears flowing this day will bring trouble and sorrow in the coming months.

In the morning, wash with spring water with a twig in it and say: “May my soul sprout and become young, like this twig.”

Release the birds from their coops and hope that you will find a soul mate as fast as the birds.

Men are not allowed to annoy or quarrel with women. If they do, they will have bad luck all year.

Girls must see a man on this day. Otherwise, say goodbye to any chance of love for the year.

Stepping over a partner’s foot bags you the dominant role in the future relationship.

No working in the field or the house.  Animals can’t be slaughtered.  Instead, they’re spoiled with the best food.

Single girls should gather snow known as “the fairies’ snow”. The resulting meltwater has magical properties not only in love but also in her beauty regime. The girl who rinsed her face with this water would be as beautiful as a fairy.

A woman who eats salty bread baked by the eldest woman in the household and popped basil under the pillow will dream of her future husband.

Siobhan O’Shea is a freelance writer. She writes about pretty much everything but especially likes to bring readers’ attention to new tech, marketing, human behavior, and other oddities.