As March 1st is here, it is almost compulsory to speak about such a beautiful Romanian tradition as spring forerunner. The season down is celebrated differently in villages of Romania, but two things remain unchanged: the red and white color of the string that calls for revival: Martisor.
What Martisor tradition is?
Martisor is a red and white knitted cord connected with the spring and the nature revival.
Initially, both men and women kept this small fortune bringer by their hand. A gold coin attached to a red-and-white string was given as a gift and worn as a fortune and luck amulet, ensuring the wearer with the power of the Sun.
Nowadays, on the 1st of March men offer Martisor to girls and women to pay their respect and to attract luck over them. It is usually a small jewel (the quatrefoil and the chimney sweep are the main Martisor themes, since they are believed to bring good fortune) hung to a red and white string, but it also may be a red-and-white small bracelet in leather or silk, or any other (handmade and definitely colorful) jewel that can be otherwise used as pendant or pin.
The red and white string is worn till the spring is into force. When cuckoo sings for the first time or the first roses come to blossom, the string is placed into a green tree to bring good luck.
Where does the name “Martisor” come from? “Martisor” is the popular name for the month of March (Martie in Romanian), which is connected with Roman God Mars – who was not only the God of War, but also the patron of spring, agriculture and forces of the nature, and whose celebration was on the 1st of March (also the first day of the year).
As offerings for gods in human or animal sacrifice were common, this specific time of the year (when winter makes place to joyful spring) made it a red (as in lively blood, adoration and sacrifice) and white (as in snow’s purity, winter and past) celebration.
Martisor - a pre-Christian Tradition in Romania
During Dacian times (era prior Anno Domini), the year started on the 1st of March as well, and it was divided into winter and summer.
The red-and-white cord is also named “the time cord”, since it is considered to gather the months and weeks of the two ancient calendar seasons. The legend says that it has been knitted by Baba Dochia (a mythological character identified with the return of spring) before leaving with her sheep in the mountains, where she died of cold.
Why red and white for the authentic tradition?
The red and white combination represents the reality of the opposite: life and death, day and night, winter and summer, fertility and infertility, cold and heat, the beginning and the end, and Martisor is a symbol of the balance.
A part of the tradition lost of its significance, still women in Romania (and also in some regions of Bulgaria) wear this symbol of the contraries a good-fortune representation.
Come to Romania during March! It is a vivid place and fun to be here!