‘Baba Dochia’ – Romanian spring traditions and customs

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Dochia (or Baba Odochia) symbolizes one of the most important Romanian myths. There are many versions of this myth, whose name seems to come from the Byzantine calendar that is on March 1 when the Holy Martyr Evdokia was celebrated. In Romanian mythology, Baba Dochia, or The Old Dokia, is a character identified with the return of spring. The tradition says that you must pick a day from 1 to 9 March, and how the weather will be that day, so it will be for you all year long.

In archaic conception, Dochia is celebrated as a maternal, agrarian and lunar deity. The moon itself, as deity, has an evil significance, being the prototype of the impulsive woman who patronizes night, winter and cold, unlike the Sun, the understanding paternal deity, the protector of the daylight, summer and life.

There are a couple of legends linked to this period of the year. One of them says that Dochia was even the daughter (or sister) of Decebal, king of the Dacians. Dochia seeks refuge in the Carpathian Mountains in order to avoid marrying Traian, the conqueror of Dacia. The daughter of Decebal, chased by Trajan’s men, turned herself into a rock, thus escaping the slavery humiliation.

Some say that Dochia had a son, Dragobete or Dragomir who married a girl. Dochia mistreats her daughter-in-law sending her to pick berries in the woods at the end of February. God helps the girl to fulfill the task given by the old woman. When Dochia sees the fruits she believes that spring has come and leaves for the mountains with her son and her flock. She is dressed with 9 sheepskin coats but as it rains the clothes get heavier and Dochia has to get rid of the skins. Thus, Dochia perishes together with her son. The sheepskin coats have a correspondent day from 1 to 9 March.

Some say her spirit haunts every year around those days, bringing snowstorms and cold weather.

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