Romanians have a beautiful ancient tradition on the first day of March : Martisor (The Amulet). Its name is a diminutive from the name of Martie - the Romanian word for March. If you love history, it is possible to notice a similarity between Martie and the ancient Roman God "Mars" or "Marte" in Latin language. You are right because in ancient Rome this God was a symbol of revival, green fields, flocks and love. They used to celebrate their God on the first day of spring exactly as Tracians, later Dacians and nowadays Romanians. So Dacians borrowed the Latin word for naming their first month of spring.
The archeological finds show that over 8,000 years ago on the present territory of Romania this custom was alive. People were celebrated the coming of spring with long time forgotten rituals. They used small pebbles painted in white and red arranged alternatively on a string. It might be curious why they had chosen these two colors : red and white. In those times, many magical rituals involved human or animal sacrifices for determining their pagan Gods to listen to their prayers. So blood was associated with life, fertility and worship. On the other hand, the snow, the ice and the clouds were white. In a single _expression the meaning of two colors might be : "let's forget about winter and pray our Gods to bring us fertility".
More than two thousands years ago, the Dacians had that tradition on March 1st. The Dacians God who was celebrated at the beginning of March was named "Marsyas Silen". He was the inventor of flute (shepherd's whistle) and he had the most greatest influence upon the entire nature. The Amulet's meaning was greatly enlarged. It was considered to be a protective charm for children and animals in the next coming year. Those tiny pebbles were changed into a couple of yarns, one colored in red and one colored in white. Red meant the Sun, the power of fire, passion and woman, and white meant the benefits of water, clouds, winter but also man's intelligence. The combination of those colors can be interpreted as the union of man and woman, these two opposite forces who will determine a new life cycle.
At the beginning of 19th century the beautiful Amulet was found in all Romanian regions. Especially children and women wore around their necks or on their left hands two woolen yarns (one red, one white) knitted together and a small silver or golden coin hung on them. The belief was that those who wore that Amulet were protected and would have good luck in the next year. It was written in books that young Moldavian girls wore Martisor from March 1st till March 12th. After two weeks, they used to tie their hair with that special red-white yarn waiting to see the first spring birds coming to their village. Only after that event, the young girls took out the Amulet and hang it to the first tree they saw in blossom.
You must know that in the Romanian folk tradition each season has a different color : spring is red, summer is green, autumn is black and winter is symbolized by white. All these colors can be found also having the same meaning on many patterns on Romanian pottery, carpets and folk costumes.
Nowadays "Martisor" is present in all Romanian regions but you can find a similar tradition in Macedonia and Albania too. In Romania this Amulet is a symbol of coming spring and joy. Exchanging them is a gesture of love, friendship, respect and appreciation. You can buy silky red-white threads (tied into a bow) and small plastic objects : flowers, horse shoes, leaves, bumblebees, animals, birds, tiny suns or stars, red hearts, and many others. Specific to Romania is a small black chimney sweeper - an old symbol for good luck! Especially women and children wear in the left side on their chests these amulets during nine days, starting from March 1st, of course.
Men usually buy spring flowers called "snow drops" (ghiocei) and offer them together with a postcard in which they hang the Amulet. It is the modern way of making this wonderful surprise to your dear ones! The pleasant emotion remains the same as you were a little child and received your first Martisor from your parents. The passing years don't make it less surprising. It is like wearing the Sun above your heart, warming the entire atmosphere around, and make the smiles appear any time. . .
| || || |