Two Valentine’s Days in Romania

Orthodox Christianity is perfect for people who are always late with getting presents. Because everything happens later, you have some extra time. Christmas is on 7 January, Easter is later as well (but with a different time lag each year). If you like to party and to get drunk, you may also use this schism to celebrate twice. I personally don’t benefit from this at all because I am an Atheist both in the West and the East.

In Romania I learned that this time difference also applies to Valentine’s Day. It is not celebrated on 14, but on 24 February. It’s not called Valentine’s Day either, but Dragobete. In Romanian mythology, he was the son of Baba Dochia, the main character in a spring saga.

dragobete_flowersWhen I ask around how Dragobete is celebrated, everyone tells me a different story. According to some, I am supposed to collect snow on this day, melt it and keep the water for healing purposes. But the snow is long gone. (Global warming). Instead, it is apparently also acceptable to pick flowers and to weave them into one’s hair or to present them to a loved one. Allegedly, it also has something to do with the beginning of spring. I personally find it sad to celebrate the beginning of spring by killing off the first flowers who have just barely managed to pierce through the hard and cold soil.

martisor-sellersToday, on 1 March, it becomes even more confusing. Because now the beginning of spring and Valentine’s Day are celebrated again, but this time it’s called Mărțișor, meaning “little March”. Suddenly the parks, the bus stops and the church grounds are full with hundreds of vendors offering hundreds of thousands of talismans with a red-white string. By my own estimate, in Târgu-Mureș (population of around 140,000) at least 300,000 Mărțișor talismans were offered for sale.

These numbers lead me to conclude, first, that it will be obligatory to wear this talisman on one’s lapel in the coming weeks, and second, that they are being stockpiled to serve as reserve currency in the case of a currency reform.

The likable and progressive thing about this second Valentine’s Day is that this time, women give presents to men.

Until the next holiday!

Martisor rope(Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Artikels.)

About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Religion, Romania, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Two Valentine’s Days in Romania

  1. Pingback: Zwei Valentinstage in Rumänien | Der reisende Reporter

  2. …aaand the Hungarian minority celebrates the 8th of March as Women’s Day (the Hungarian version of Martisor).
    Good luck with keeping up! :))

  3. Dante says:

    I think this discrepancy between Western and orthodox Christianity is due to the fact that the latter never really accepted the Gregorian calendar whos average year is slightly shorter than the Julian year. The discrepancy is now 13 days.

Please leave your comments, questions, suggestions:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s