Celebrating Spring in Romania – Martisor Traditions
February 7, 2018
If you plan your trip to Bucharest in March, you need to be prepared for Martisor, the celebration of spring. Martisor is the old, traditional name of this month in the calendar, but it is also the name of a tiny object embellished with a red and white cotton string which is offered to the people you care about on the 1st of March as a harbinger of spring. It is mostly women and girls that receive Martisor on the 1st of the month and wear it until the month is over.
You will notice that, a few days before the 1st of March, the streets will be filled with little tables where designers of handmade crafts present their unique and imaginative creations. Each year there is something more interesting than the year before, but also some objects that are always the same. For example, cherished symbols to wear as martisor include a four-leafed clover, chimney sweep, lady beetle, horseshoe, and turtle. These stand for good luck and good fortune, and even if they have been used as martisor for hundreds of years, they are still going strong as lucky charms.
The origins of the martisor tradition are not exactly known, but research shows that it dates back at least as far as the Roman Empire occupation, when the New Year was celebrated on the first day of spring, in March. In Romania, archeologists have discovered objects that could have been martisor from thousands of years ago (river stones painted in white and red that were worn around the neck).
Nowadays, the Romanians wear and offer martisor to celebrate spring, light, the sun and a beginning of a prosperous year. Martisor is a symbol of beauty, health, joy, honesty, and love; when wearing it, the owner is protected from all the bad in the world. After March is over, martisor is never thrown away, but tied on the branches of a tree, for good luck.
Aside from the symbolism of the 1st day of March, what else does the season bring? Well, mostly during this time you can enjoy plenty of handmade-product fairs and lots of differently themed parties hosted in spectacular venues all over the city, including the bars and pubs in the old city center.
It is also important to mention that the 1st of March is also associated with flowers, so don’t be surprised if you walk the streets during this day and receive flowers from complete strangers and even TV celebrities and famous singers. The Romanians take martisor very seriously, and if you visit Bucharest on this day, you can be a part of an ancient tradition celebrating the rebirth of nature, joy, and love.