Dragobete is a Romanian holiday that is celebrated on February 24th, each year. In the traditional Romanian mythology, Dragobete was a young god of the autochthonous pantheon, but whose celebration date varied from one historic region to another. He is the patron saint of love and cheerfulness and is oftentimes associated with Roman mythology’s Cupid and Greek mythology’s Eros. But unlike the aforementioned gods of love, Dragobete did not directly intervene in the affairs of humans. He did not use his powers to make people fall in love, but rather to always remind people to never stop celebrating love.
The legends of Dragobete
A local legend claims that Dragobete was, in fact, the son of Baba Dochia, the daughter of the last Dacian King, Decebalus. Also known as Dragomir, the young man is described as a half-man half-angel, beautiful, and immortal. It is said that he walks the Earth just like other mythological creatures and demigods, but regular people are not able to see them due to the decadence of the society that we live in.
Some ethnographers also link Dragobete to the arrival of spring. In certain areas, Dragobete was believed to be the saint patron of birds, the holiday being linked to fertility and the rebirth of nature. Dragobete is celebrated less than 1 month before the Spring Equinox, and it is said that on this day birds began to build their nests, the trees start blooming, and all of nature comes back to life after the long and heavy winter.
In order to celebrate his birthday, parties were organized, and oftentimes marriages quickly followed behind. The local boys and girls used to wear special clothes and meet in front of the town’s church. From there, their quest began. They would wander into forests and over the plains in search of spring flowers. The boys who found strawberry flowers were the luckiest. It was believed that these have magical powers, so they would make little bouquets and place them in the water used by girls to wash their hair, while reciting a magical poem. At noon, the girls were running back to the village, and if a boy liked any of them, he would have to run after her and catch her. If he was quick enough, and if the girl liked him back, they would have kissed in order to make their love public. This is how the famous saying “Dragobetele sărută fetele” (Dragobete kisses the girls) was born. At night, the boys and girls would head over to the hills surrounding the village in order to make bonfires, and they would sit around them and chat until morning.
Source of the text: https://rolandia.eu/dragobete-celebrating-love-romanian-style/