Yesterday was a happy day, and not only because Spring was coming, but also because we're celebrating Martisor Day on March 1st. I was so excited to go out to buy some of the small amulets we're calling 'martisor'!
This is a very ancient tradition, coming from the Romans. Our ancestors, both the Romans and the Dacs, were using such amulets for bringing luck in war. On those times the women gave amulets to men going to war. At first it was only the white and red yarn, but later a small amulet was added. They were using gold coins or small round rocks as amulets, also painted in white and red, like the yarn. White was a symbol of peace and fertility and red a symbol o f war.
The name 'Martisor' comes from the God Mars (Marte, in Romanian) which was celebrated in March(Martie). According to the Roman calendar, it was then when they celebrated the begining of the year on those times. The amulet called Martisor became a traditional gift for the New Year's Eve, which was supposed to bring luck and happiness. It has remained a March celebration even after the new calendar was adopted. Now it is a happy celebration of Spring which comes to brighten our days after so much snow and freeze. Only that it became a gift for women which the men are giving. All the men and boys are giving these amulets to women and girls, not only the husbands or sons or lovers, but also bosses, colleagues from school or from work. It is a happy day, full of happy thoughts, kisses and hugs! And we, the women and girls from Romania, are so happy to wear all the amulets we are receiving, not only to please the men in our life, but also because they are still amulets for bringing luck! They can be made of gold, silver, or any metal, but also of plastic, glass, cloth, shells or even feathers. Some have the form of an animal, bird, bug or cartoon characters, flowers etc. The most reprezentative are the 4 leaf clover, the horseshoe and the chimney sweeper which are the symbols for luck.
I'm always so happy to search into my personal collection of amulets - days before March 1st -, to plan which goes to whom and how many more 'martisoare' I need to buy . I keep some of those which I had received on the previous year, but give away the rest of them to my girlfriends.
When I was in primary and secondary school it was very hard to select all the amulets for my colleagues. I would always make a card for each of them, wrote a few wishful words on it, then pin the amulets on the card. All my colleagues did the same and you should have seen what a big noise we made while exchanging the 'martisoare' between us, girls, and also receiving from the boys. Those were such happy moments I will always remember !
Every year I go out to choose some amulets for my friends and coleagues, and for my husband's colleagues too. He and my son are consulting with each other for buying me and my daughter a 'martisor'. The amulets are industrial made or crafts. Some are sold in stores, but most of them are out on the street, exposed like an art exibition. Those art craft makers are showing their products starting February 15th and they have to endure freeze and snow to sell their crafts. It's such fun to walk between the tables and panels with thousands of amulets on them, to see what's new and pick up something, which is always so hard!
Today is March 1st . I took the amulets I bought yesterday - some huge lady bugs, pinned on green cards - and gave to my girl colleagues at the office. The boys gave me some nice flowers as amulets, and a fish, like my horoscope sign. The girls gave me this funny laundry hook with a lady bug on it and a butterfly. I pinned them on my sweater so all my colleagues should be pleased that I've enjoyed their gift.
It is a great day, when happy thoughts, funny jokes and laughter are all around us! We aren't looking out on the window anymore, at least for today. Tomorrow can snow again, but the amulets will still be on my sweater until March 8th, so the joy, luck and happiness will be with me all this time, as those are true amulets.