1st of March – the first day of Spring. On this day we celebrate the “Martisor” in Romania. It is such a nice and sweet tradition which symbolically, it is correlated to women and to fertility as a means of life and continuity.
The beginnings of this tradition are still a mystery, but it is said that it originated in ancient Rome, because New Year’s Eve was celebrated on the 1st of March (Martius), the month of the war god Mars. He had a double role: both protector of agriculture and of war, so the celebration signified the rebirth of nature. The duality of symbols is kept in the colours of the Mărţişor: white and red, meaning peace and war (it might also symbolize winter and spring).
The name Mărțișor is the diminutive of marț, the old folk name for March (Martie, in modern Romanian), and thus literally means “little March”. It is also the folk name for this month.
These days men offer women a talisman object also called Mărţişor, consisting of a jewel or a small decoration like a flower, an animal or a heart, tied to a red and white string. A woman wears it pinned to her blouse on this day and up to two weeks after. Women also offer it to other women and only occasionally to men.
However, giving a little nickel tied to a red and white string is an old custom and was originally designated for both men and women.
It was believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be powerful and healthy for the year to come. The decoration is a symbol of the coming spring.
This custom can be found in all areas where Romanians live. Bulgarian neighbours also have an almost identical tradition on the 1 March, called “Martenitsa”.
Here are a few pictures of how the Martisor look like:
But today is not only the Martisor. My father celebrates his birthday today. He is now 59 years old. I can’t believe it. So Happy Birthday Dad! La multi ani si sper sa ai o zi frumoasa!