“The day when the birds are betrothed”, Dragobete is a traditional Romanian holiday celebrated on February 24 and associated with love and the spring’s arrival.
The legend says that Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, which stands for the main character in the pagan myth related to spring arrival and the end of the harsh winter.
It is around this time that the birds begin to build their nests and mate. On this day, considered locally the first day of spring, boys and girls gather vernal flowers and sing together. Maidens used to collect the snow that lay on the ground in many villages and then melt it, using the water in magic potions throughout the rest of the year. Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness, especially fevers, for the rest of the year. If the weather allows, girls and boys pick snowdrops or other early spring plants for the person they are courting. In Romania, Dragobete is known as a day for lovers, rather like Valentine’s Day.
It is a common belief in some parts of Romania that, during this celebration, stepping over a partner’s foot leads to the dominant role in the relationship. Yet Dragobete customs vary from region to region.
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