Day 60 0f 365


Day 60 of my "365 Days" project. Mărțișor. 

Mărțișor (pronounced myrrh-tsee-shore)  is an old Romanian celebration at the beginning of spring, on March the 1st.The term might be loosely translated as ‘little March’. With this occasion, girls and women receive from family and acquaintances a double-threaded red and white string, usually accompanied by a small trinket. This object with its string also came to be known as ‘martisor’. The ‘martisor’ is pinned to the lapel and worn for at least one week. The origins of the custom are lost in the shadows of time, some believing it to come from Roman ancestors and their Ides of March celebrations. It could also be Thracian in origin, since it can be encountered in Bulgaria as well.

The symbolism of the red and white string hails back to the time of pagan beliefs, red symbolising blood and death, and white purity and rebirth.
Originally, the custom in Romania was to give the red and white string to both men and women, and it was worn tied to the wrist. With the passing of time, small charms and coins came to be attached to the string. The charms of the modern ‘martisor’ generally come in the shape of flowers or animals, and are made of materials ranging from wood and plastic to silver, gold, and precious stones.

After mid-February, the ‘martisor’ makers gather at the corners of public squares or in piazzas and exhibit their wares on stands. Shortly before the big day (March 1st), these areas are completely swamped with buyers. This is a must-do tradition, and it is considered in very poor taste and mean-spirited not to offer these small tokens of appreciation to the women in one’s family and to female acquaintances.

The people who receive vast quantities of such gifts are, as a rule, schoolmistresses and teachers. The regular ‘crop’ could be of more than 60 trinkets, of all makes, materials, and tastes. For members of the family and friends who live in another city or country, Romanians have invented the 'martisor' greeting card, which, if it doesn’t have a red and white string stapled to it, is at least printed with a red and white border.

The photo represents a 'martisor' greeting card that I received from my sister.

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