In several villages of Walachia, and especially in those of Gorj and Olt counties, the First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Forerunner, which always falls on 24th February, is called Dragobete. In these regions, Dragobete is a beautiful celebration day for lads and lasses, and even for young men and women. This day, in the morning, all girls and boys comb their hair, change their clothes, and, if the weather is fine, they go after snow drops to the waterside or for firewood in the forest, first the girls, then the boys in groups. If the weather is bad, the girls gather in their houses round their friends and relatives, where the boys in the neighborhood come as well. As people customarily believe, 24th February, namely the Dragobete, is the day when all birds and animals are mating. Boys and girls believe thus, that on this day, they also have to fool around, to celebrate Dragobete, as they say, in order to be in love all year long. And if on this day, the girl hasn't met any boy, it is believed that she will not be loved all year long, and vice versa.If at first sight this custom has no meaning, in essence, people care so much for it, that they don't let it pass without celebrating it. Then, among girls in the countryside, there is so much competition of being in love, and for their mothers so much happiness when they see that their daughters are surrounded by pure love, that many times they envy each other and they even quarrel because of this, when the one fallen out of love shouts to the other that she has practiced magic in order to be loved, and has made her, by using magic again, not to be loved by boys. In Roşia village in Gorj county, the lads and lasses had a custom on the Dragobete day of fraternizing and marrying. This commitment was done based on the previous brotherhood harmony namely, on that day, they hugged and, kissing each other, they promised that they wouldn't try to upset the other by being insincere; on the contrary, they would help each other anytime and for any need. However, nowadays, this custom has almost entirely disappeared. Finally, I have to remind still that in some villages, also in Walachia, as for instance in Buzeşti, Olt county, people celebrate the Dragobete for the purpose of being protected from diseases. […]Also, in many regions inhabited by Romanians there is the custom of celebrating the so called 'love Dragobete.' It is celebrated on the first day of March and even later on, throughout the entire month in the following way:They look for wild strawberry flower and, with the water from it, the lasses wash themselves, so that they should be liked and noticed when they go to celebrations or feasts during the year, saying:Wild strawberry flower,Of MarchMake me loved by everyone,And drive away the lurch Apart from the snow water and the one from the wild strawberry flower of March, some Romanian women also use rainwater as well as spring water of the same month, partly for keeping healthy and partly for revitalizing the pickled cucumbers and cabbage, which begin to wear out and rot. Hence, the Romanians from Bihor say that if you wash yourself with rainwater you will be healthy, and those from Bucovina say that if, at the beginning of March, you take out water from the well or from the brook and pour it over the barrels of pickles, the latter will not wear out, on the contrary, they will be invigorated. Excerpted from The Holidays Of The Romanians, Vol. I, 1899

by Simion Florea Marian (1847-1907)