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.
When 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.
Today, 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!