Sunday, 1 March 2015

1 March - Lovely traditions


Do you celebrate something on 1st of March every year?

Yes, I guess you do: St David's day. It's a Welsh thing, but I don't know much about this, so I am going to write about something I do know and love.

If you have East European friends/colleagues, you might have heard about this tradition.


Every year, on the 1st of March, Romanians from all over the world, are supposed to share (attach on the jacket/jumper on the heart's side) with people they care about, a small object (images) which has a white and red string attached to it.
Why?!
Because we like gifts and jewellery. Joking.  

It's a tradition. It has a very deep meaning, which we can't tell for sure when it started, where, by whom.
Some think Mărțișor has a Roman origin (God forgive to say that to an Italian!), others believe it to have a Daco-Thracian origin instead.

This object could be pretty much anything/everything. 
At first, it was a coin (no money value), then a lady beetle, a snowdrop, a clover leaf, horseshoe, etc. ; all symbols of luck, health, wealth, beauty.


Nowadays, these objects changed a lot. We've got crystals, gold, diamonds, handmade/knitted small things, etc. but the tradition is still on, I won't complain.


In ancient Rome, on March 1 - 'Martius', (called this way in honour of the god Mars),  was celebrated the New Year's Eve. Mars was also an agricultural guardian (ensured nature's rebirth). So, the red and white colours of Mărțișor may be explained as colours of war and peace.

Other beliefs: the red string signifies vitality, while the white one is the symbol of victory.
Red is the colour of fire, blood, and a symbol of life, associated with the passion of women
White is the colour of snow, clouds, and the wisdom of men.
Keeping in mind these, the thread of a Mărțișor represents the union of the feminine and the masculine principles, the vital forces which give birth to the eternal cycle of nature. 

In Daco-Romanian folklore, seasons have symbolic colours: spring is red, summer is green or yellow, autumn is black, and winter is white.
Therefore, we can think that the string, knitted in white and red, is a symbol of passing, from the cold white winter to the colourful spring.

These small and beautiful objects were attached to clothes on the right side of the chest and worn for the entire March month.

On 31st of March, in some areas of Romania, people attach the red and white strings to a branch of a tree with a wish in mind.
I had no idea of this custom as I would have definitely done it.

All lovely meanings and I truly love this tradition, hoping will never be forgotten. 

When I was a child, I used to give it to friends, teachers, close colleagues, mum and dad. 
In Moldova (the region I was born in), it was common for a girl to give Martisors to the boys, especially if they were cute and nice....
The boy would have had to give back a small gift (chocolate, card, book, etc.) on 8 March in exchange. 
Yep, it worked like this. "I'll give you if you give me." So materialistic! :D

Also, a girl would give to a specific boy a martisor to show she likes him a lot.

Very stressful school day. I always had a boy I liked more than another one. Dammit! Needed to hide the object and leave it on the desk when no one would see me. I was supposed to attach it to his chest on the shirt (not bare skin! No Dracula legend in here), but I was really shy, so opted for leaving the object on the desk in an anonymous way.
Then the boy had to look around and guess which girls fancied him. Quite difficult mission, due to the fact we were 16 girls and 16 boys in the class.


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