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Mărţişor

The legend of Mărţişor (Romanian)
by

Lavinia Nicolae

on 1 March 2012

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Transcript of Mărţişor

Mărțișor (pl. mărţişoare) is a traditional celebration of the beginning of spring, on March 1st. It is a tradition in Romania, Moldova, and all territories inhabited by Romanians and Aromanians. Almost the same custom can be found in Bulgaria, while similar ones exist in Albania and Italy.

The name Mărțișor is the diminutive of Marț, the old folk name for March (Martie, in modern Romanian), and thus literally means "little March". It is also the folk name for this month. Mărţişor Legend

Once upon a time, the Sun used to come down to Earth as a handsome man to dance in village's hore (Romanian dance).

Seeking to defeat the sun, the Dragon followed the Sun in one of his trips to Earth, knowing that during his metamorphose the Sun would be powerless. The Dragon kidnapped the Sun and threw him in a dungeon of his castle.

The birds stopped singing, nature died, the children couldn't play and laugh, but nobody dared face the Dragon. One day, a brave young man decided to save the Sun. Most men accompanied him and gave him their strength in order to defeat the Dragon.

The journey to the Dragon' castle lasted 3 seasons: summer, autumn and winter. At the end of winter, the young man managed to find it. The battle between the dragon and the young man began and it lasted for many days until the dragon was defeated.
With his last strengths, the young man managed to set free the Sun.

Nature rose to life, children started smiling, but the young man couldn’t see spring coming. The warm blood from his wounds was falling on the snow. As the snow was melting, white flowers, called snowdrops, the messengers of spring, appeared. When the last drop of blood fell on the snow, he died happy as his life served such a noble purpose. Since then, people intertwine two tassels, one white and one red. At the beginning of March, men offer this talisman, called Mărţişor, to the women that they love, but also children wear it.

The red color represents the love for everything that is beautiful and it is the symbol of the brave young man. White symbolizes purity, health and it is the color of the snowdrop, the first flower to appear in spring. Mărţişor. A Romanian Legend Lavinia Georgiana Nicolae
l.nicolae@ihu.edu.gr This ancient custom has its origins in agrarian practices and rituals. It is celebrated on the first day of March, which is considered as the first month of spring. In Rome, the New Year began on 1st of March and this month was named after Mars (Marte), the god of land fields and the personification of nature’s revival. This custom coincided with the Dacian celebration of New Year in March which is related to Dochia. But that's another story.

For the ancient Thracians, the same attributes were specific for the god Marsyas Silen, his cult being related to the earth and vegetation, and the celebration of spring. Flowers and nature’s fecundity were dedicated to him. Archaeological excavations in Romania revealed mărţişoare older than 8.000 years in Schela Cladovei. In the shape of small river stones, painted with red and white, they were strung on a thread and were worn around the neck.

The red color, given by fire, blood and sun, was the attribute of life, therefore of woman, while white, given by the purity of water and the clouds, was the attribute of man’s wisdom. Thus, the Mărţişor represents the inseparable interwine of the two principles as a permanent movement of matter and the exchange of vital forces that sets the universe into motion. The Mărţişor survived until present days as a symbol of the two genders. It is believed that wearing the Mărţişor would bring luck and prosperity.

Women wear it for 9 or 12 days after which they hang it in their hair until the storks would come or until the first tree would be in blossom. After this, they hang the thread on the tree’s branch so that she may be as beautiful as the tree’s flowers. Today, a great variety of Mărţişoare are created by people of all ages as a symbol of spring, from simple to complex. The simplest is the thread itself, while the most complex involve the combination of several symbols, such as snowdrop, chimney sweeper, horseshoe, clover, all range of flowers, butterflies, coins and small jewels, and others, in accordance with each one’s imagination. But the thread remains the common denominator.

In March, Romanians organize fairs dedicated to this celabration during which people buy handmade Mărţişoare that they would offer to the loved ones. In some areas of Romania, the Mărţişor consisted in a silver coin, adorned on the red and white thread. In Romanian traditions, each season has its characteristic color: spring – red, summer – green or yellow, autumn – black or blue and winter – white. Therefore, the red and white thread symbolizes the passing from the cold winter to the spring full of life and vitality, as fire and blood. The coin is the personification of sun and the fact that it is made of silver points to purity and immaculacy. Mărţişoare and fairs I do not own the photos, all publishing rights go to the owners.
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