Moldova has it’s own equivalent of Valentine’s Day celebrated in early spring on February 24th – Dragobete, the name of the local counterpart of Roman God of Love, Cupid or the Greek God, Eros. Dragobete is the protector of love, joy and fertility. His Dacian name is believed to come from “trago” – meaning “he”, symbol of fertility, and “pede” – “legs. Today is a day of joy – young people spending it together, of love, young single man and women finding each other (the guys try to catch the girl they like and kiss her).
It is believed that Dragobete is the son of Dochia – a mean woman symbolizing winter, while he is the opposite – a creature full of joy, loved, of course, by girls. But he is not perfect – and in fact some say he managed to annoy Virgin Mary herself by trying to make her fall in love. As a punishment, Virgin Mary transformed him in a plant called “navalnic”.
It is an early spring day not by accident, chosen by the time birds begin to find a mate. Probably, their nuptial dances inspired the people who felt that springtime, a time of rebirth for the entire nature, is also the time of young love.
Like any other archaic tradition, this one has its own superstitions. Hence, on Dragobete’s Day one cannot work – the field, in the house, to sew, to weave etc. You may however clean your house – a sign of new, fresh, good. It is believed that men that hurt women on that day, or even have the smallest argument with, are doomed to bad fortune for the rest of the year. Also couples that want to stay together and in love must kiss today. Single women should see a man today – in order for them not to remain single the whole year. Also in some parts, single woman gather the last snow they find, they melt it for it is believed that this water has magical properties in love rituals. Also young people go to the field and gather the flowers that just appeared – and then the boys will offer bouquets to the girl they like. The tradition requires the girls to start running and each boy is supposed to follow the one he cares for. If he catches her, he will steal a kiss and probably her heart.