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Dragobete is a traditional Romanian holiday originating from Dacian times and celebrated on February 24. Dragobete was the son of Baba Dochia, which stands for the main character in the pagan myth related to spring arrival and the end of the harsh winter.
The day is particularly known as "the day when the birds are betrothed". It is around this time that the birds begin to build their nests and mate. On this day, considered locally the first day of spring, boys and girls gather vernal flowers and sing together. Maidens used to collect the snow that lay on the ground in many villages and then melt it, using the water in magic potions throughout the rest of the year. Those who take part in Dragobete customs are supposed to be protected from illness, especially fevers, for the rest of the year. If the weather allows, girls and boys pick snowdrops or other early spring plants for the person they are courting. In Romania, Dragobete is known as a day for lovers, rather like Valentine's Day.
It is a common belief in some parts of Romania that, during this celebration, if you step over your partner's foot, you will have the dominant role in your relationship. Dragobete customs vary from region to region.
In neighbouring Bulgaria, the custom of stepping over one's partner's feet traditionally takes place during weddings with the same purpose, but it is not believed to be connected to Dragobete.
- Mărţişor - another Roman spring/fertility holiday
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