It’s 1st of March – a new month, a new season and also a day when mainly women receive some symbols called “martisoare”. Martisor literally means little (or dear) March – and it’s also the popular name of this month in Romania. Martisor is also a symbol for a new life, hope, fortune and even love.
There are several stories regarding the legend of Martisor. Let’s see the most important 🙂
One of the first legends goes back to the fist century – around year 106 B.C. Back then the Roman empire conquered a part of Dacia – that is how the Romanian people appeared. The legends is connected to a sun eclipse. It is believed that the sun, seeing how much fun people on earth in these regions had, wanted to enjoy the pleasures of a man. So, during a festival, he came disguised as a young man. He was however kidnapped and imprisoned. Although people were sad due to the lack of sun, no one had the guts to free the sun. One day however a young man decided to face the ogre and try to set free the sun. He managed to do so, but unfortunately the warrior died before he could see and enjoy the spring. Injured, all the warm blood flowed on the white snow, melting it. That is why on March 1st young men give their beloved girl a present as a symbol of spring tied with a white (symbol of health, purity) and red string.
Another legend reminds us of Dragobete and Old Lady (“baba”) Dochia. As you’ve already found out, Dragobete was the son of Dochia. He was married to a girl that, in a cold winter day, Dochia sent to the river to wash a black wool until it would turn white. That was however impossible. But the ordeal of the woman washing the black wool impressed Jesus that came to earth as a young man, Martisor, that gave the girl a red flower that made the wool white. The girl went back home and told the story to Dochia. The old lady, finding out about the flower believed that the winter is over so she left the home with the sheeps. She took 7 warm coats – but being rather hot outside she gave up those coats one by one. When the cold installed again the old lady Dochia froze – along with her sheep.
The first types of “martisoare” were gold coins suspended on a white-and-red braided tread with a silk tassel. This necklace was worn around the neck until the person saw the first red flowers in a tree and than the chain… was hung out in the tree in order to bring money, health and good luck to that person.
There is also an area or Romania where the receivers of these “martisoare” are not the girls but the boys. Yes, different parts of the country, different traditions!
1st of March is however the beginning of the spring, and Martisor is a symbol of this season, of health, hope, a new life and all that is good!
Here are some photos of traditional martisoare, photos taken by our dear Valentina Roman at a fair taking place these days in the National Peasant Museum in Bucharest.