Most people say that spring in the Northern hemisphere starts on 20/21 March. Not in Romania, though. The little birds tweeting at my window in the morning, the winter coat hanging in the closet, and the bright rays of sun falling tenderly over the buzzing streets on March 1st, have always been my first day of spring.
We called it Martisor (a sort of diminutive for Martie, the Romanian word for March), and we celebrate it with snowdrops, traditional gifts, plenty of joy, and dinners downtown. It is a bustling, but very special time of the year, when every city, town and village in the country is brought to life by heaps of colorful stalls selling the so-called “Martisoare”.
Martisor is an authentic Romanian celebration that dates back to the time of the Thracians, but it’s also the name given to the little talismans with red and white strings, offered during this holiday.
From March 1st to March 8th, when Romania celebrates not only Women’s Day, but also Mother’s Day, everything revolves around these tiny gifts. Men and children usually scour the markets and shops in order to find the most beautiful martisoare for the ladies in their lives, while women are looking forward to wear them pinned to their fanciest clothes. Their reputation of lucky charms might be long gone, but their design seems more important than ever.
Options can range from simple red and white cord bracelets, ingenious home-made accessories, and all sorts of cute figurines to elegant brooches and luxurious jewels. Everything depends on the buyer’s budget and imagination, but also on what impression he wants to leave. Overall, it’s a game that everyone enjoys and a beautiful way to welcome the spring.