Sunday, March 1, 2009

Happymaking on the 1st of March- Mărţişor

Did you get a Mărţişor today? ;-)

It's finally spring and wanted to share with you a nice Romanian tradition and story about what we do on the 1st of March, the day when we give each others Mărţişoare!

Mărţişor is the traditional celebration of the beginning of the spring in Romania, Moldova and Bulgaria (under the name Martenitsa - Мартеница). The day's name is the diminutive of March (in Romanian Martie), and thus means something like "little" or "dear March". Nowadays, 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. 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 (though men don't like to admit it and one asked me for chocolate 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. A woman wears it pinned to her blouse on this day and up to two weeks after (received one this morning ;-)). In some parts of Romania such as Moldova or Bukovina the symbol of spring was a gold or silver medal which was worn around the neck. After wearing the coin for twelve days, they bought sweet cheese with the medal, because it was believed that their faces would remain beautiful and white the entire year.

The beginnings of this custom are still a mystery, but it is usually 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). For the Thracians, Marsyas-Silen, whose cult was related to the vegetation and the land, had the same attributes. The flower and nature celebrations were consecrated to him.

And as I recently got about 20 of these from Romania I decided to take them to the Romanian church today and give them to all the women there.And it was lovely, some of them were close to tears as they didn't get something like this in the last 8 years and miss Romania and being home...was pretty touching and fun feeling so much happiness. And some of them started wearing them and explaining to the German husbands what they meant. Lovely! The Greek lady seemed to like them also...thank God I had exactly 20...was pretty close!

So I had my happymaking on the Mărţişo's day, no go get some and share them to you mum,grandmother, girlfriend,colleague, teachers, friends and so on. Looking forward to wearing one tomorrow @work ;-) I'm a Happy Happymaker today!


starrybluesky said...

Loved this post - I remember getting one from a Romanian friend when I was in my teens and being very impressed with the tradition. Glad that you could make so many people happy too, with your stash of them :)

Mihailescu said...

Glad you liked it ;-) your blog is pretty nice also especially as I will come to Paris soon, useful info ;-)

Neetu Sharma said...
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Peter Davis said...

Any idea where to find mărţişor in the United States? My wife is Romanian, so I'm trying to find some for her and my in-laws. Or just make them myself?

Silvia said...

hi there, easiest way is to make it yourself! best part you can give her any piece of jewelry, toy or whatever as long as you tie it with a red and white thread/ribbon :)