The Folk Celebration of love, Dragobetele is celebrated every year on February 24, the day when the Orthodox Church celebrates the First and Second Finding of St. Prophet John the Baptist’s Head.
February 24 also marks the beginning of the agricultural year, when the whole nature comes back to life, birds nest and, after some folk beliefs, the bear leaves its den. With nature’s revival, love also blooms and Dragobetele is the day when the entire living world celebrates the renewal of nature and is preparing for the arrival of spring.
Depending on the region, the feast is also known as the ‘Spring Head’ ‘,’ ‘St. John Spring’ ‘,’ ‘John Dragobete ‘,’ ‘Lovers’ day’,’ ‘Birds’ pairing’.
God of love in Romanian Pantheon, Dragobetele is identified with Cupid, the god of love in Roman mythology, and Eros, god of love in Greek mythology, synonymous with impetuous. It is considered, in the Romanian folk belief, Baba Dochia’s son. Impetuous and fickle, Dragobetele is imagined as a sturdy lad, handsome and loving that dwells more through forests. Stealing young wives’ and girls’ minds, Dragobetele was transformed by Maria Mother of God into the love plant that bears Her name, ie a species of ferns, shown on the website http://www.crestinortodox.ro/.
Taken from the ancient Dacians, where he was perceived as a match making god and as a godfather that officiated in the sky, early spring, the wedding of all animals, Romanians transfigured Dragobetele, over the centuries, until he came to be regarded as a deity that protects and brings luck to lovers. He became the protector of love for those who meet on Valentine’s Day, a love that keeps all year, like the bird that ‘get engaged’ on this day.
Dragobetele is a god of good dispositions and parties are organized on his birthday and occasioning thus allowing for the budding of new love, engagements and even marriage. Once, on Dragobete Day, Romanian villages clamored with young people’s joyfulness and they could be heard saying: ” Dragobetele kissing girls! ”.
Communities were once piously respectful of Dragobete Day, with the belief that only those who celebrated this day, will share love in the year to come.