The National Village Museum “Dimitrie Gusti” in Bucharest opens its doors this weekend with a special thematic event to celebrate Dragobete, the Romanian equivalent of “Valentine’s Day.” Like Cupid or Eros, Dragobete can be considered a god of love. According to legends and traditions, he is the son of Dochia, another legendary figure famously associated with the beginning of spring. Legends tell of Old Dochia mistreating her daughter-in-law, either by sending her to pick up fresh berries in February, when it’s impossible to find any or by sending her to wash black wool in the river till the wool turned white. In both stories, God helps the girl and Dochia gets furious and eventually ends up frozen. Her son, however, is kind and loving, and these character traits make him an important figure in local mythology. Traditional beliefs identify him as the Guardian of Love.
Dragobete’s holiday is celebrated on February 24; a date considered the first day of spring, or “the day when the birds are betrothed.” There are different traditions used to celebrate this day in various parts of the country, and a day at the National Village Museum “Dimitrie Gusti” this weekend will offer deeper insight into customs and traditions related to this holiday.
According to popular belief, Dragobete is when nature is reborn, birds build their nests, and the bear leaves its den. With the revival of nature, people are also celebrating and preparing for the coming of spring. Dragobete at the museum will feature events for the entire family, with children’s theater, folk songs, and dances, traditions and customs, plus fair selling art and crafts, sweets and Dragobete-themed trinkets.
Besides the Village Museum, there will be several other venues around Bucharest where young couples can celebrate Dragobete together: 7 actors will recite love poems to mark the holiday at the Studio Hall of the Comedy Theatre in Bucharest at 6:00 pm; the Cultural Center “Casa Artelor” showcases some of the most beautiful traditional ii (Romanian blouses), followed by wine tasting, and a concert of love songs; and so on. Many restaurants will offer special Dragobete menus and events: for example, Pepe will perform live at Berăria H.