Romanian people have many traditions, and some of them are deeply entangled in the popular mythology, using symbolic characters and elements inspired by the social realities of the past.
One of these popular Romanian traditions is ‘Babele’. Its story of spring renewal after a harsh winter was used to forecast the future of farming activities in the countryside.
In a larger sense, this tradition is used to predict how the rest of the year is going to be, based on the weather. All you have to do is choose a single day, a ‘Baba’, from the 1st to the 9th of March and wait to see how it turns out. If it’s sunny and clear, you’ll be happy, but if it’s cloudy and dark, well, you should expect some problems.
However, if it snows, there’s a good chance you’ll get rich or at least richer than you are. Obviously, you shouldn’t cheat. You have to choose your ‘Baba’ at least one day before, and ignore any influencing weather forecast for this period.
The origins of this tradition are found in the legend of Dochia, a representative figure in the popular Romanian mythology, portrayed in this case as an old (baba) and evil woman who torments her daughter-in-law, forcing her to do all sorts of hard jobs.
In one version of the legend, Dochia sent the young woman to pick wild strawberries from the mountain although it was only the 1st of March. Desperate, the girl wondered on the mountain until she found an old man, allegedly God, who gave her the fruits she was looking for. Seeing the wild strawberries, Dochia believed winter already passed, deciding to take her sheep up on the mountain.
The warm weather made her throw away her nine, or maybe twelve, coats in nine days. However, after these nine days, the weather suddenly changed, and Dochia froze together with her sheep, their ice figures transforming to stones. This story of Dochia is also linked to the legends that surround the rock formations ‘Babele’ from Bucegi Mountains, in the southern part of the Carpathians.
While it’s hard to imagine that one single day can predict the rest of the year, this is a fun spring tradition worth practicing every year.