Friday, 24 February 2012

Dragobete or the Romanian God of Love

In the Romanian mythology, Dragobete was a young God, god of love, a Romanian Eros or Cupid that bought love and joy in people's hearts. About Dragobete, the legend says, that he was the son of Baba Dochia and the cousin of a vegetational hero. He is described as a young man, strong and handsome, beautiful and good, or in other legends as supernatural being, either god, or half man half angel, forever living and extremely beautiful.

Either way, he walks through the world unseen. People can see him no more because their bad deeds caused the loss of 'sight'. Dragobete is the protector and bringer of love. The legend says that on Dragobete day the animals and birds 'get engaged' and girls and boys that trust the God and celebrate the day with joy and love will find their mate and remain in love over the year. A different legend says that Dragobete was the god that acted as a celebrant of the weddings of birds and animals before his magical powers extended over people as well.

The Dragobete celebration, ancient, since the days of Dacians, is a celebration of fertility and fecundity, a celebration of nature waking up after the long winter sleep, marking the coming to life of nature and human alike, of harmony between human and the nature that blossoms.

Dragobete is considered the Romanian equivalent of Valentine's Day, a celebration of love. Traditions are still followed today in South and South West of Romania. On Dragobete, girls and boys meet so their love can last the entire year, similar to the birds that get 'engaged' on this day.

Being a God of happy times, on his day parties were being organized, where young people could meet, being the starting point of future marriages. If the weather was good, young people would meet in groups, singing and making noise, to go in the forests and pick up the first flowers of spring, the snowdrops. The young girls would take buckets of not yet melted snow and later would wash in it to remain beautiful and lovable over the year.

The tradition says that on this day people would stop working, spending the day cleaning and decorating their house in order to welcome the God of love who never came alone, but accompanied by the fairies of love who whispered sweet words to people in love.

There are plenty of traditions connected to this holiday:

On this day, everyone was careful to not spend it without a pair, which was considered an omen of solitude and loneliness for the entire year, until the next Dragobete.
Older people had to look not only after the household animals, but after the birds of the sky as well.
No animals are being sacrificed.
Men could not be upset on women, or start a fight, ot bad luck would follow them throughout the year.
Young people had to celebrate through jokes, or without respecting the holiday, no love would come to them. 
The popular tradition says that if  a girl does not meet a boy on that day, she will find no love from the opposite sex for the rest of the year.
On this day, sewing and field work are not allowed. House work is encouraged in order to bring abundance.
On Dragobete, symbolic engagements were celebrated by a young man kissing the girl he loved in the open view of the entire village. It was also a day where young man and women could become blood brothers by mixing their blood.
In the forest, around camp fires, men and women would talk and pick up plants to be used in love spells and charms at other holidays.
Coming back to the village, the young men would chase the young women. If the woman accepted the man, or allowed him to catch her, he would kiss her in front of everyone which was signifying an engagement followed by a wedding later in the year.

The legend says that if it rains on this day, spring will come soon.