The arrival of spring is a reason of celebration in Romania since immemorial times. The traditions linked to this important time of the year which marks the rebirth of nature are gathered around the Mărțișor symbol.
The Mărțișor is basically an item considered to bring good luck on which a red and white thread is attached, that is presented as a gift on March 1. This day marked the beginning of the year for our ancestors, who have been practicising this tradition since 8,000 years ago. In those times, mărțișor took the shape of coins tied together by red and white wool strings, which were thought to bring good luck, health and good harvest to those wearing it.
The first few days of the new season were crucial in establishing how the rest of the year will be like. Between March 1 – 9, the Romanians also celebrate „babele” (in translation: the old women): everyone has to pick a day in this timeframe; the weather on this day will show your luck in the new year. Warm weather means that you will have happiness, fruition and wealth, whereas cold, rainy weather brings adversities, poverty and sorrow. Romanians are generally very superstitious, so they will pay attention to these signs.
The ancient tradition has changed in the last decade, so that the item of mărțișor is no longer strictly attached to good luck charms, but can be found in all combinations – from flowers to Disney characters -, the red thread remaining the central piece. There is no rule to who one has to give the mărțișor to, although usually it is women who receive them and also return the favour.
On this day, women may also receive flowers, namely snowdrops, considered to be the messenger of spring. The snowdrop’s color is referenced in the traditional thread, white symbolising purity, while red stands for love.
Upon receiving a mărțișor, you can either wear as brooch or as a bracelet. Tradition says that a man has to tie it to your arm and should also be the one who takes it off at the end of March, after which it should be tied around the branch of a blooming tree.