This site is an outcome of the Comenius 2008-2010 multilateral project "European Journey Through Legends".

"Becoming more European does not mean forgetting our national cultural heritage, but sharing it with other European nation".


March The 1st: “Mărțișor”

The tradition has it that the spring and summer weather will be just like the one from this day. March the 1st is related to the custom of “martisor” (diminutive form of martie = March). Folk beliefs say that who wears the “martisor” will be lucky and healthy.

The Little March Amulet

Mărţişor is the symbol of spring and also a celebration on the first of March. Its beginnings are still a mystery. The first evidence of a similar custom come from 8000 years ago. The archeologist have discovered small river rocks painted in red and white that were probably string on a rope and wear as a necklace. Also in ancient Rome, New Year's Eve was celebrated on the 1st of March (Martius), the month of the war god Mars. He had a double role: both protector of agriculture and of war, so the celebration signified the rebirth of nature. The duality of symbols is kept in the colours of the Mărţişor: white and red, meaning peace and war (it might also symbolize winter and spring)
In the old times, the “martisor” was made of two woolen threads, a white one and a red or black one, symbolizing the two main seasons , winter and summer. Women used to make this braid, which they tied on the wrist and neck of their children.

The “martisor” was also worn by young men and adults. Moreover, the braid which announced the spring was tied on the horns of the cows or on the gate of the stable, in order to protect the household. In the old times, March the 1st was the beginning of a new year, moment in which people needed to protect themselves from the evil spirits.

Later, a silver or golden coin, or even a medallion was hanged of the braid, having a protective function. The coins of that braid were kept until St. George (April 23rd) and the girls were buying themselves fresh cheese and red wine, in order to blush as the wine and to be as white as the cheese.

The  “martisor” is worn until the roses or the cherries bloom. Then, the braid is tied on one of the branches of that tree. In other regions, the “martisor” is worn during the ”Old Woman’s days” (March 1st - March 9th), after this being tied on a tree. It is believed that, if the tree gives fruits, the man who has worn the “martisor” will be lucky. If the “martisor” is thrown after a bird, the man will be as easy as that bird.

The Story of the Little March

Once upon a time, there was an old woman. She had a son, March, who had just got married. The old woman didn't like her daughter-in-low maybe because she was too beautiful. That is why she was trying to find a flaw in her son's wife ordering her the most difficult jobs. 

One day the old woman commanded the girl to go to the river and to wash some black wool until it would become white. Without a word the young woman went to the river. There a young man appeared miraculously. He immediately turned the black wool into white one. When he wanted to thank him he disappeared leaving no trace behind him.
Another time, at the end of the winter, in February, the bad old woman asked her daughter-in-low to bring her some wild strawberries. The girl had no choice but to go find the wild fruits. March was desperate because his own mother was torturing his wife. That is why he left his home.
Crying, the girl wandered throws the forest and suddenly the same handsome young boy appeared and filled up her basket with wild strawberries.
The young lady hung at her neck a white coin for the wool and a red one for the wild strawberries.  In her husband's memory whom she is still looking for, she called the coins "Little March". From that day all the "Romanian girl and women wear Little Marches". They believe that the Little Marches bring them luck in love and good health.  

The Legend of the March Amulet

Once upon a time, the Sun embodying a handsome young man, got down from the sky to dance a Romanian round dance (hora) in a village. A dragon lay in wait for him and kidnapped him from among the people and threw him into a jail. The world got sad. The birds wouldn’t flow and the children wouldn’t laugh.  No one dared to challenge the bad dragon. But one day a brave young man decided to go and save the Sun. Lots of people saw him off and shared their strength with him. So they helped him defeat the dragon and save the Sun. His journey lasted for three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. He found the dragon’s castle and they started to fight. They fought for days and finally the dragon was killed.
Powerless and wounded, the young man set the Sun free. The Sun rose in the sky cheering up all the people and filling them with joy. The nature revived, the people got happy, but the young man couldn’t live to see spring coming. The warm blood from his wounds dropped on the snow. While the snow was melting white flowers, called snowdrops, messengers of the spring, were appearing out of the snow. Even his last drop of blood dripped out in the immaculate snow. And he died. Since then the young people have been knitting two little tassels: a white one and a red one. At the beginning of March, they offer this amulet to the girls they love… Red means love for everything that is beautiful. It reminds us of the color of the brave young man’s blood. White symbolizes the pureness and health of the snowdrops, the first flowers that appear in spring.

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