March 1st, a.k.a. “Mărţişor”

mărţişor

mărţişor (sample)

March 1st – the city is full of flowers and mărţişoare, and the merchants’ creativity has no limits. You can find everywhere classic amulets, with little hearts, little flowers, stars and also papyruses with love declarations on them. Everything is breathing “spring”. In the streets dried out by a promising sun, the crowd is looking for the appropriate souvenir for their mother, sister, girl friend, wife or workmate.

The custom of giving mărţişoare on March 1st to girls and women is found in Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania. It is a pre-Christian habit, connected with the rituals of the agricultural New Year.

The meaning remained the same in time: it is a symbol of spring, a symbol of resurrection. The mărţişor is a decorative object, tied with a red and white string. It is considered a talisman that brings luck to the person who wears it.

At the beginning it used to be a coin. Later on, it shows up as smal river stones, dyed in red and white. Today, the manufacturers’ imagination has no limits, but few of them know the story behind it:

The Sun turned into a young fellow who came down to village for the ring dance. A dragon was watching, kidnapped him and threw him into a prison.
The world grew sad, birds stopped singing, springs stopped flowing and children stopped laughing.
Nobody dared to fight the dragon, till one day a young fellow started to look for the Sun. The journey lasted three seasons- summer, autumn and winter. Finally, the brave young man found the dragon’s castle, fought against him, wounded him and freed out the Sun from the prison. This made the whole world very happy.
Nature came back to life, you could feel life vibrating in each bird’s twitter, in each flower bud, but our brave young man was dying because of his deep wounds, made by the dragon. The young man’s blood was dripping on the soft snow, and on the melting snow the first white flowers were growing up, the snowdrops, reminding his sacrifice.
Since then, the mărţişor is offered together with two tassels, one is white and the other one is red. The red color means love for all the beautiful things; it reminds us about the color of the hero’s blood, while white represents health and purity of the snowdrop, the first flower of spring.

The talisman is worn a certain period of time and after that is hanged on trees that are going to bloom. Unmarried girls put their mărţişor under a big stone, trying to find out their fate.

Beyond all that, the mărţişor remains a symbol of the joy of living, a sign we use to say hello to spring.

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