Martisor – March Charm
Spring traditions in Romania
Legend has it that the Sun, looking at the people having fun, wanted to enjoy the pleasures of men. So, he decided to come to Earth as a young man and take part in the festival. But his happiness was short-lived because an ogre kidnapped and imprisoned him in a castle.
The people were very sad because there was no more sun. The birds would not sing anymore, the children weren’t happy anymore, and the rivers stopped flowing. But still nobody dared to face the ogre, until one day when a brave warrior stepped forward and he went to challenge it. When he arrived at the castle the brave warrior faced the ogre and they fought for days until our warrior killed the ogre. In the end the exhausted warrior, with almost no strength, freed the Sun, which immediately started to shine, thus bringing spring again into the world. Unfortunately, the warrior died before he could see the spring season. His warm blood flowed onto the snow until the last drop; where the drops felt a snowdrop rose.
Since that moment, young men make white and red strings which they offer to the girls whom they love or to those close to them. The red color reminds us of the warrior’s blood and the white is a symbol of health, purity of the snowdrop and of the first flower of spring.
What does “martisor” mean?
The “martisor” is, in popular tradition, a symbol of weeks, months and years gathered and twisted into a string with two colors, the colors representing the winter and the summer. It is a present given to the women on the first of March. The richer families had “martisoare” with strings made of silver and gold. Children would wear it tied to their hands, on their chests or around their necks.
It is believed that those who wear it will not be burned by the sun during the summer, and they will be healthy, lucky, and beautiful like flowers.
At the beginning, a “martisor” was just a coin attached to a white-red thread. After some time, beautifully-colored bead stook the place of the coin. Today a “martisor” could be represented by a horseshoe, a clover, a chimney sweep, or other modern figurines.