Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death

If you enjoyed the eerie feeling and local color of Romanian folktale Emperor Aleodor you will love reading Youth Without Age and Life Without Death. Enjoy it and remember, the magic of Romanian folktales starts with the first words.

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death ~ part 1

Once upon a time long, long before something happened whose likeliness never occurred before, for if it had not happened it could not be told. When the flea had one foot shod with ninety-nine pounds of iron and jumped into the glory of the sky to get us fairy stories… When the fly would write on the wall, a bigger liar being the one who doesn’t believe what he is told… 

There was once a mighty emperor and empress. Both were young and handsome, and as they desired the blessing of children they did every thing that was necessary to secure it, that is they went to the witches and philosophers and asked them to read the stars to find out whether they would have children or not.
But it was all in vain.
Finally the emperor heard that a very wise old man lived in a neighboring village, and sent for him. The messengers returned with the answer: “Let him who needs me come to me.” So the emperor and empress set out for the wise man’s house, taking with them several of their courtiers, attendants, and soldiers. When the old man saw them in the distance, he rose, went to meet them, and said at once:

in a land far away - Youth Age Life Death

“Welcome! But what do you want to know, oh, emperor, your wish will bring you sorrow.”

“I am not here to question you about that,” replied the emperor, “but to learn whether you have any plants you can give us that will bestow us the blessing of children.”

“I have,” the old man answered, “but you will possess only one child. He will be a handsome, lovable boy, yet you will not be able to keep him long.”

After the emperor and empress had obtained the herbs they joyfully returned to the palace. The whole empire, the courtiers, and all the attendants rejoiced too. But when the hour of birth came, the child began to scream in a way no magic arts could silence it. The emperor commenced to promise it all the good things the world contained, but it was impossible to quiet him.

“Hush, father’s pet,” said the emperor, “I will give you this or that kingdom. Hush, my son, I will give you this or that princess for your wife.” At last, when he saw the child would not stop, he added: “Hush, my boy, I will give you youth without age and life without death.”

Then the prince stopped crying and was born. The courtiers beat drums and blew trumpets, and there were great rejoicings throughout the empire for a whole week.

The older the boy grew, the more thoughtful and reflective he became, handsome too. He went to the schools and the philosophers and gained every kind of learning, so that the emperor died of joy and came to life again. The whole realm was proud of having a prince so wise and learned, a second King Solomon.

Then one day, when the lad had just reached his fifteenth year and the emperor sat at a banquet with the nobles and grandees of the country, the handsome prince rose, saying: “Father, the time has come, you must now give me what you promised at my birth!”

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death - party

When the emperor heard this he grew very sorrowful and answered: “Why, my son, how can I give you an impossible thing? If I promised it to you then, it was only to hush you.”

“If you can’t give it to me, father, I shall be obliged to wander through the whole world till I find what was promised to me, and for which I was born.”

Then all the nobles and the emperor fell at his feet and besought him not to quit the country, because, as the courtiers said, his father was growing old, and they would place him on the throne and give him the most beautiful princess under the sun for his wife. But it was impossible to shake his resolution, he remained as firm as a rock. After his father had seen and duly considered all these things, he gave his consent and prepared to supply the prince with provisions and whatever else he might need for his journey.

The young hero went to the imperial stables, where the finest steeds in the whole realm were standing, to choose one of them; but when he laid his hand on the horse’s tail he knocked it down, and so they all fell, one after another. At last, just as he was going out, he let his eyes wander around the stables once more and saw in one corner a sick, weak horse, covered with sores. He went up to it, and when he grasped it by the tail, the animal turned its head, saying:

“What do you command, my master? I thank God that He has permitted a hero’s hand to touch me once more.”

And, planting its feet firmly, it remained standing. The young prince told it what he intended to do, and the horse replied:

“To obtain your wish, you must ask your father for the sword, lance, bow, quiver of arrows, and garments he wore when a youth; but you must take care of me with your own hands for six weeks and give me oats boiled in milk.”

When the prince begged the emperor for the articles the horse had advised, the monarch called the palace chamberlain and ordered him to open all the chests of clothing, that his son might choose what he pleased.
The young hero, after rummaging them three whole days, at last found in the very bottom of an old trunk the weapons and garments his father had worn in his youth, but the arms were covered with rust. He set to work to clean them with his own hands and in six weeks, during the time he was taking care of the horse, he succeeded in making the weapons as bright and shining as a mirror.

When the horse heard from the handsome prince that the clothes and arms were cleaned and ready, it shook itself once. All the sores instantly fell off and there it stood, a strong, well-formed animal, with four wings. When the hero saw this, he said:

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death - magic horse

“We’ll go in three days!”

“May you have a long life, master. From to-day I shall be at your service,” the horse answered.

~ Return tomorrow for part 2 ~

Youth Without Age and Life Without Death (Tinerete Fara de Batranete si Viata Fara de Moarte) is a Romanian folktale discovered by Petre Ispirescu, Romanian editor, folklorist, printer and publicist, and first published in 1862 in local newspaper Țăranul român (Romanian Peasant).

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Valentine’s Day in Romanian Folklore: Dragobete, Ziua Indragostitilor

valentine's day folklore dragobete

Romanian folklore is a rich source of fairy-tales and traditions filled with wisdom and symbolism and bearing witness to a millennial culture, such as Dragobete, the Romanian version of Valentine’s Day, Ziua Indragostitilor and celebrated not on 14 February, but on 24 February.

Dragobete, origin and signification

A few theories explain the origin of this celebration and the etymology of its name. Some say it derives from “dragubete”=”dragu” (meaning dear, beloved in Romanian) + “-bete” (a Slavonic suffix meaning gathering).
Some say it coincides with the Christian celebration of The First Finding of the Honorable Head of Prophet John the Baptist, named in Slavonic Glavo-Obretenia and adopted during the Middle Ages by Romanians under various names, such as Bragobete, later Dragobete. Some see in Dragobete an old Dacian tradition taking place during this specific time of the year, beginning of spring, by using the connection with two Dacian words: ‘trago” (tap, goat) and “pede” (picioare, feet). And the Dacians inherited their legends from the Thracians, Indo-European tribes mentioned as far back as the legends of Iliad and Odyssey, 600 -800 years before the times of Saint Valentine.

valentine's day folklore dragobete

Perhaps the best connection with Valentine’s Day is by associating Dragobete with a character from Romanian mythology, patron of love and good cheer. He was the son of Baba Dochia, a figure that marks the return of spring, described as a demigod with special powers, young and good looking, and kind hearted. And with spring comes the renewal of nature and love. This explains why Dragobete is celebrated on this day, as 24 February was considered the beginning of the new agricultural season.

Based on the popular tradition surrounding this specific date in Romania, 24 February, birds and animals all find their mates and build nests, as it is a celebration of fertility and nature’s rebirth. I is said that if girls and boys enjoy a day of jokes and fun together then they will enjoy of a year full of love, for sure. For Dragobete protects love and those who share it on this day. 

Dragobete is also a symbol for spring and new beginning, for changing of seasons from winter that we leave behind, to spring, ahead of us, a change from long night to shorter ones and longer days, filled with sunshine.

Dragobete, Valentine's Day - photo by Adolph Chevalier
Photo by Adolph Chevalier

Romanian folklore presents Dragobete as a handsome young man with hair as black as ebony and eyes as green as the spring leaves, who would play his whistle and make the girls fall for him. He is the one responsible for teaching humankind how to love. As a reward, Virgin Mary turned him into a plant, Navalnic, Impetuous or hart’s-tongue fern. Other folk tales speak of Dragobete as teasing Virgin Mary and making her lose her path in the forest, thus she changed him into the same plant.

Up to today, this plant is said to bring young maidens good luck in love if they wear it tucked in their bosom in a silk bag. Although modern times swapped the plant for a banknote. 

Popular tradition speaks of young girls and boys meeting outside the village church and heading for the woods to gather spring flowers. If raspberry flowers were in sight, it was a good sign. They were soon picked while the girls would sing:

“Flower of raspberry,
 Born in February,
 Make the whole world like me
 And take away all that’s beastly”

Romanian country song for Dragobete

Afterwards, the boys and girls light up fires and sit around and talk. At noon, the girls sprint for the village, each followed by a boy the boy who liked her the most. If the boy catches the girl and if she also likes him, they kiss in front of everybody, thus becoming engaged for one year, on Dragobete, by showing their attachment for each other in front of everybody.

I don’t know what happens if two boys chase a girl. But all young adults were urged to take part in this ceremony for, as tradition also says, participating in Dragobete will protect you from any illness during the coming year. I would say enough for any elderly villager… 

valentine's day folklore dragobete - valentine's day folklore dragobete - photo by Adolph Chevalier
Moldavia, Romania. Photo by Adolph Chevalier

Want to have luck in love? Here’s what you should do on Dragobete, on 24 February

Wash your hair with snow. Gather fresh, unspoiled snow, melt it and wash your hair and your face to stay beautiful all year round and for the boys to notice you first. The Dragobete snow is said to be perfect for love charms.

Kiss your loved one on Dragobete or at least make sure you get to see the one you fancy and you two will be together forever or at least you will increase your chances of ending up together.

Be merry and joyful on Dragobete day and you will stay like this the entire year.

In some parts of Romania the common belief says that stepping on your partner’s foot on Dragobete will establish your dominance in the relationship. At least during the year ahead.

You can pick or buy crocuses, violets or snowdrops to hang them above the icons in your home – it will keep you young as well as chase away any bad thoughts or envy held against you. These flowers, once dry, can be thrown on a moving water on 24 June, on Sanziene Day (or Dragaica, a night when all magic is possible), to attract all bad luck down the river with them.

Clean your house on Dragobete day for a fruitful year and to guarantee your husband’s love. But, if you are a boy don’t dig or work the ground or Dragobete might punish you because you don’t have fun.

Boys and all men should not tease the girls or be nasty towards them on Dragobete, or they will set themselves for an unlucky spring. 

Plant basil so it will grow until Saint George, the day after Easter, when it’s the perfect time to replant it in the garden. The basil planted on Dragobete is perfect for spells, charms, and cures, for it is said it hold special powers. Besides, the Dragobete basil is the one girls can use in various rituals throughput the year to help them foresee their chosen one.

Try to spot a hoopoe on Dragobete and you will have good luck all year. But if you spot a pair of birds, you will have good luck in love. 

If you drink cherry tea on Dragobete you will know love all year round.

valentine's day folklore dragobete - Dragobete, folklore, Romania, tradition dance. photo by Adolph Chevalier
Romanian traditions on Dragobete – folk dance. Photo by Adolph Chevalier

A Dragobete spell from Ardeal region of Romania:

Old women would go in the forest to pick hart’s-tongue fern. Before they pull it from the ground they whisper the name of the girl they collect for and drop honey, flour and some sugar at the plant’s root. Picked only this way can the fern be used for magic spells that are supposed to make a certain boy love the girl it was picked for. 

What you should NOT do on Dragobete, on 24February, to avoid any bad luck

Because it is a celebration of love and rebirth, don’t buy or sacrifice any animals on this day.

Don’t sew, wash or iron, but you can clean your home.

What makes Dragobete or Valentine’s day so special ,lasting the test of time?

Is it the nostalgic feeling all tradition carries, the romance that puts a spring in our step, no matter how much we deny its importance during the rest of the year?

Or is it simpler then that. It is the need for hope and the feeling of belonging, to know that our existence carries some sort of meaning for someone else? Someone we care for too.

How many Saint Valentine are there?

The Saint Valentine we all know so well was a 3rd century Roman saint venerated by Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, and Lutheran Church on the 14th of February.

Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Saint Valentin, Bishop of Umbria, on the 30th of July. Saint Valentine of Umbria was born in 175 AD in Interamna (today Terni, in Umbria Italy), and performed numerous miracles, healing the sick. When he was almost one hundred years old he was arrested in the middle of the night (to avoid protests from people of Terni), tortured and decapitated in Rome during the ruling of Marc Aureliu.

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Celebrating South Africa’s Heritage Day through Pictures #nature, #music, #books, #culture

Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.

Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.

In South Africa we love to cook… and eat:

Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Cooking in Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Local food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
South African koeksisters - food24 dotcom.png
South African koeksisters – food24 dotcom.png

We love music, movies and we love to party:

Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg
Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg

We search for the spirit of the great heart:

Johnny Clegg – Publicity Images
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg

We have more than one Indie Film Festival:

We love the outdoors:

Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg

We have a diverse economy:

Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg

We are joyful and diverse:

Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, @_entreprenerd
Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @_entreprenerd
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg

We use incredible idioms, if you translate them:

And MADIBA, whom we miss each and every day:

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg

You might also be interested in:

A Poem You Can Read in English and Afrikaans

Living At The Cultural And Technological Crossroad

Orthodox Easter Eggs, folktales, symbolism, traditions #culture #history

It was an erstwhile custom that a mother, no matter how elderly or ailing she felt, would take it upon herself to bring food to her lad bided elsewhere as soon as the snow thawed and the first white spring shoots pierced the ground.

A folktale tells that Mary, the mother of Jesus, took it upon herself to visit Jesus in Jerusalem and thus she packed a basket with fresh eggs. It wasn’t much else she could take him, Herod having just increased his taxes, again.

The road was winding through the verdant green hills of Judea and Mary’s heart felt light for each step brought her hither to her son, which she hasn’t seen in a long time. As the morning progressed her own shadow became but a puddle by her feet. Soon enough the basket began feeling heavier and heavier in her work-worn hand and her steps became slower and slower and she felt like her journey to Jerusalem had become a quest for shade. Not many trees were in bloom so as soon as Mary spotted a stream sheltered by a little arbor she quickened her step and stopped to cool and quench her thirst. It was a thirst like she had never felt before.  So she looked about and decided to stop for a few moments.

The road was winding through the verdant green hills of Judea and Mary’s heart felt light for each step brought her hither to her son

The stream singed and Mary saw a new nest above her head and smiled. Life was precious. The water moved softly over her fingers and, when she removed her hand, a few droplets lingered on her fingers. She brought the hand to her eyes and smiled, a whole life scene embedded in those tiny see-through pearls.

It was a peaceful moment and life’s moments were just like this string of beads following each other on her outstretched hand. Each one connected to the next, stronger together. Filled with love.

But it was time to move along. Before getting up something tugged at her heart and Mary lifted the white cotton fabric that covered the basket to see if the eggs were still in good shape.

A dreadful sight unfolded before her eyes. It was as if the sun had stopped shining, no gurgling from the stream could glide through the air and all proof of life on earth had been stamped out.

The eggs had turned blood red and the Blessed Mother of Jesus understood that the time had come for her son to pay for our sins. But she was first a mother and he was her baby boy and so she wept, Mary did, and as her tears rolled down her cheeks and dripped onto the blood covered eggs they drew patterns, a cross, a star, lines and spirals.

Easter eggs symbolism traditions

When Mary reached the place where Jesus hang on the cross, she laid the basket at his feet and knelled to pray. Then Jesus spoke and asked her not to cry for Him, but to share those blessed eggs with the people who believe in His resurrection.

***

This is why on the Orthodox Easter we color boiled eggs in red, we draw patterns on them and we share them with our loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, knocking egg against egg and saying: “Christ has risen,” and answer “It is true He has risen.”

Easter eggs symbolism traditions
Red easter eggs on the grass with flowers and blowballs, naturally colored easter eggs with onion husks. Happy Easter, Christian religious holiday.

The symbolism of the Easter egg

The hard shell of the egg symbolizes the sealed Tomb of Christ.

The cracking of the egg (through knocking) symbolizes His Resurrection.

The Ritual of coloring Easter Eggs

It is said that coloring Easter eggs is a sacred ritual. The day when one colors the eggs is special and no other activity will take place.

On counting the eggs that are to be colored, one doesn’t begin with one, but with “one thousand”, thus bringing wealth in the house for the remainder of the year.

The paint was already prepared, using different plants for different colors. GREEN – was made from walnut leaves, sweet apple skin. RED came from the leaf of a sweet apple, corn leaves or thyme. A special flower was used for YELLOW. Oregano was used to give the colored eggs a heavenly perfume.

The room where the eggs were painted was also special. No worried or upset person was allowed to step inside and no bad rumors or news of people who just passed away were allowed to reach the ears of the egg-painter.

Easter egg color symbolism

Easter eggs are nowadays colored in a rainbow of shades.

WHITE – means purity

RED – symbolizes the blood of Christ and life

BLUE – symbolizes the sky above, uniting us all

BLACK – means fertility

GREEN – means nature

YELLOW – symbolizes sun and energy

Easter eggs symbolism traditions
Easter eggs symbolism traditions

Orthodox Easter Eggs Design Symbolism, Traditions

A straight vertical line means life.

A straight horizontal line means death.

A double straight line symbolizes eternity.

A rectangle pattern – symbolizes thought and knowledge.

A sinuous line symbolizes water and purity.

A spiral means time and eternity.

A double spiral symbolizes the connection between life and death.

Cross – symbol for Christianity

A cross with additional small crosses at the end of each arm is a Russian cross.

Orthodox cross on a red Easter egg

A star – is called the “shepherd’s star”

A monastery – symbol of Christianity

Other motives used for decorating Easter eggs: bees, frogs, snakes, lambs, garden tools, fir tree, tulip, wheat.

Other traditions call for all the family members to wash their faces with fresh water on Easter morning, water from a container that holds a red egg and a silver coin. It is believed that the red egg brings good luck, good health, warn off evil spirits and all spells.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Easter eggs’ symbolism and traditions.

You might also enjoy reading:
A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara, Romania
Convents: the Religious Life of Medieval Women

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