Didn’t you hear? Romanians have their own traditional Valentine’s Day. It’s celebrated a few days later than its Western counterpart, on February 24, and it’s said to have been born in Dacian times (first century AD).
The day of February 24 was considered to mark the beginning of the farming season or the day when the bears woke up from hibernation. In short, it is the time when nature revives. On this day, it was believed that birds gathered in flocks in order to choose their partner, actions mirrored by young people.
The name Dragobete originates from the name of the local deity, who is closest in significance to Eros or Cupid. Dragobete was depicted as a very handsome and amorous man, who was also rather abrupt in his behavior. He was also the one who overlooked the coupling of all animals at the beginning of spring.
In Romanian villages, this day was a celebration of life and love for young men and women, who would dress up in their best clothes and, if the weather allowed it, went in groups through the forests and meadows in search of spring flowers, that were placed by girls in front icons and then used to make love potions.
Besides this, they would also organise get togethers where they danced, sang and had a good time, since it was believed that those who did not party on this day would have no chances in finding their pair in the remaining part of year. During the party some couples would form or some showed their interest for a person, signs that were keenly observed and interpreted by the community because, in most cases, they revealed who was going to get married next fall.