Profusion Publishers - Independent British Publishing House, based in London

Happy Martisor!

MĂRȚIȘOR, the celebration of Spring on the first day of March, is – to use a Romanian expression – as ancient as Earth itself. On this day, women receive a gift of a double-threaded red and white string, together with a small trinket – called mărțișor. This mărțișor is worn for the next week, on the lapel. In some parts of the country tradition dictates that the string would then be tied to a flowering tree, so as to bring good luck and a good crop. The colours, red and white, recall a time of pagan beliefs, red symbolising blood and death, and white purity and rebirth.

Over the years, small charms and coins came to be attached to the string. Nowadays the charms take the form of flowers or animals, and can be made of a wide range of materials, from wood and plastic to silver, gold, and precious stones. As March approaches the mărțișor makers gather on the corners of the big public squares exhibiting their wares. A version of this custom is also found in Bulgaria, called Martenitsa, but it involves only a red and white twine being tied to the wrist of people’s loved ones.