Romania’s Dragobete: Celebrating the God of Love
by Ada Mihai
Dragobete could be seen as the Romanian version of Valentine’s Day, but the similarities between the two pretty much end here. The feast of this Eastern God of Love, usually celebrated on the 24th of February, has a mystical rather than a mercantile shade. It is not about offering red hearts or chocolate, it’s about performing magic rituals, being joyful, and even coming clean about who you love.
Dragobete was inspired by nature. People have seen how nature changes, how birds mate and build their nests at this time of the year and have copied their rituals.
Locals follow a well-trodden path. The young girls and boys of the village meet early in the morning in front of the church, rosy-cheeked and dressed in their Sunday clothes. Attracting attention on this day guarantees that the year ahead will be full of love, joy and success, or so the legend has it.
The celebration is at its best when it’s sunny. The group will then spend the day in the forest or in the fields, where they will pick flowers or gather the herbs used in love incantations.
In some parts of the country they will even look for nettles, one of the first plants to sprout as winter ends and also one of the top ingredients at this time of year for traditional dishes.
However, if the sky seems heavy or a blizzard is raging, the group will enjoy a sleigh ride or gather at someone’s place to tell stories. Before lunch, the tradition requires the girls to start running and each boy is supposed to follow the one he cares for. If he catches her, he will steal a kiss and probably her heart. The gesture is not a game. It is a vow of love for the whole year.
Read more at http://gonomad.com/3535-romania-rsquo-s-dragobete-celebrating-the-god-of-love#GRxIoZVhXrJWpRVL
Photo Catalin Neagu http://catanegru.blogspot.ro/2013_02_01_archive.html .
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