February 28, 2013

Martisor, Amulet of Spring and Friendship

The "Mărţişor" is an amulet, a talisman of friendship or love given on the Martisor holiday (March 1st / 1 Martie) - the symbol of the beginning of the spring / simbolul sosirii primaverii. This amulet is knitted in white and red threads (wool, cotton, or silk) as a symbol of passing from the white season of winter to the red spring (fire & blood) according to the Daco-Thracian origins and as a symbol of vitality (the red thread) and victory (the white thread) according to the Roman origins. The treads were named "The Years's Rope/ funia anului" and initially were used to be made by black and white wool threads symbolizing death and life / darkness and light / good and evil. In the Romanian tradition, the season's colors (spring = red, summer = green, autumn = black and winter = white)  were used as patterns in Romanian folk costumes, in pottery, in folk carpets and traditionally good luck amulets.

Martisor, Romanian Amulet of Spring and Friendship

So, the Romanian tradition of "Martisor" has been traced in the Roman and Daco-Thracian origins, according to many archaeological researches. Both nations used to celebrate New Year's Eve on 1 March. The Thracian name of "March/ Martie" was given after the "Marsyas Siles" - god of land and vegetation, the inventor of flute / fluier / traditional musical instrument.  The Roman name of "March / Martie" was given after the god "Mars" - god of wars and the agriculture.
Traditionally, Martisors have been given by men to the children, young girls and women in their lives, who then wear the martisor pinned to their blouses or tied around their necks or on their left hands. They may be only a small bouquet of spring flowers "snow drops/ ghiocei" or "Narcissus/ Narcise", a heart, a shell, a lucky chimney sweeps, four-leaf clover or horseshoes talismans, small medallions or coins twisted with red-and-white threads.

Old Romanian Coin - Martisor, my lucky talisman
 Old Romanian Coin - Martisor, my lucky talisman

Traditionally they are worn for the first 12 days of March (or in some regions, until May 1st, at the feast of "Arminden"), than the treads may be tied to a blossoming spring tree or blossoming spring flower to pay homage to the nature and with the belief that all the wishes would come true. The talisman is kept the whole year and would protect the person and bring good luck to the whole house in the next coming year.

Although the  weather looks more like winter, let me offer a virtual Martisor, an Amulet of Spring and Friendship, to all RomaniaMagicLand readers and wish you a beautiful Spring!


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