Mărțișor is a celebration of spring that begins on 1st March each year. It is a tradition belonging to Moldova as well as Romania, and has variations in places such as Bulgaria and Macedonia and Albania. The term Mărțișor is a diminutive that which literally translates as ‘Little March’.
According to legend, on the first day of March, Spring came out into the forest to find a small snowdrop flower blossoming. In appreciation of its beauty and to protect and enable it to grow, Spring decided to remove the snowdrop of surrounding thorns.
In witnessing this act, Winter became angry and decided to try and obliterate the flower by creating a violent, wintery storm. However, in order to protect the snowdrop, Spring covers it with her hands, and in the process is cut by the thorns on the flower. As a result, her blood is shed and drops onto the snowdrop, turning the once white flower, partially red.
This act of bravery resulted in Spring defeating Winter. As a result, from March 1st, the coming of spring is celebrated as a passing from the winter months.
It is tradition to wear small red and white threads that are customarily tied together with contrasting red and white fringed ends. The colours are said to represent the blood that was shed onto the snowdrop. These small decorative trinkets are often worn simply tied in a bow, or are tied to various small charms such as those depicting flowers, ladybirds or love hearts.
The trinkets are worn throughout the first nine days of the month and are often given as gifts between friends and family members to celebrate the turn of spring and to symbolize love, friendship and hope for the rest of the year.
In Moldova, Mărțișor is also celebrated with the annual arrival of a ten day music festival in the capital city. The music performed is largely folk or classical but other genres and styles are of music are also incorporated.
How do you celebrate the coming of spring in your own countries? We would love to hear from you.