Dragobete -the lovers’ day in Romania

When is celebrated

Dragobete is a festive Romanian holiday, associated with love, happiness and the arrival of spring. For us, Romanians, Dragobete holiday is the traditional lovers’ day celebrated on February 24th.

Where is celebrated

In the rural areas, there are different customs associated with Dragobete, varying from region to region. Unfortunately, many customs are fading in the modern life of the Romanians.
Dragobete was the day when girls and boys dressed in holiday clothes and if the weather was nice. They started to walk through meadows and forests, singing and looking for the spring’s first flowers.

Spring in Buzau - Romania
Spring in Buzau – Romania

How is celebrated

On the morning of Dragobete, girls and young women would gather fresh snow, then melt it and with the water obtained they washed their hair and skin, thinking that they will look nice for potential admirers.

Usually, young girls and boys, gathered in a house in order to celebrate, believing that in this way they will be in love the entire year until the next Dragobete holiday. This meeting turns often to a real party, with food and drinks. Often, some boys went to other villages, shouting and singing over the hills in order to attend the Dragobete celebration from there. It was a celebration of young people from villages to the woods for dancing, kissing and hugging.
It is believed that on the Dragobete’s day some birds gather in flocks, chirp, choose their pair and begin to build nests.

Blooming tree in Bucharest
Blooming tree in Bucharest

Dragobete was celebrated in some places on 1st of March , because it is believed that Dragobete or Dragomir was the son of Dochia and  the person who announces the arrival of spring. You might wonder who is Dochia? Some legends say that she was the daughter of the Dacian king Decebalus, and Trajan the conqueror of Dacia felt in love with her. After he conquered a part of the Dacian territory, his troops pursued Dochia. She sought refuge in the Carpathian Mountains so that she doesn’t have to marry him.

Romanian spring lanscape
Romanian spring lanscape

Dragobete habits, once eagerly waited for all young people. Especially to the ones from the villages are now almost forgotten kept only in the memory of the elderly. In the past few years, our national holiday Dragobetele risks being forgotten completely and being replaced by Valentine’s Day. The American celebration that is unrelated to the Romanian spirituality.