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March 1st celebrates Martisor day

On every March 1, the Romanians celebrate the day of Martisor, an anciently inherited tradition, which city people more frequently relate to the arrival of the spring, when they use to present flowers and martisoare tinny spring symbols accompanied by white and red twisted threads.

Ancient Romans used to celebrate the New Year on March 1, when they used to give as a present a white thread plaited with a red one, the former symbolizing purity and the latter the love and fertility. In the beginnings, a small flower used to be tied with the white and red plaited thread.

There are also legends that ethnologists believe to be Gettic Dacian origin, saying that the martisor thread was spun by Baba Dochia (the Dacian goddess of the Earth), while she was driving her flocks up to the mountains, in the beginning of each spring.

Archeologists found the oldest evidences of the celebration of martisior day in Romania at Schela Cladovei, in Mehedinti county (south) dating back 8,000 years. Namely they found river stones painted in white and red, colors symbolizing the genesis and the renewal of life.

Later, a silver coin, (related to the symbol of the Sun) used to be tied to the white and red threads, and thus the martisor becomes a symbol of the fire and the world, and therefore of the Sun.

The Martisor is offered early morning on the first day of March; it used to be worn for 9-12 days, sometimes until the first tree would bloom when it was hung on a flowering branch to bring good luck to its bearer.

In Dobrogea (eastern Romania), the Martisor was worn until the arrival of the white storks when it was thrown high up in the sky for bringing 'great and winged fortune ' to its bearer.

In the villages of Transylvania (central and western Romania), the red-and-white wool yarn Martisor was pinned on gates, windows, sheepfold, tied around the horns of cattle, around the handle of buckets to protect from the evil eye and evil spirits; it was believed that the red 'color of life' could be an inducer of vitality and regeneration.

The legend of the March Amulet says that there was a time when the Sun used to take the shape of a young man and descend on Earth to dance among folk people. A dragon found out about this and followed the Sun on Earth, captured him and confined him in a dungeon in his castle. Suddenly, the birds stopped singing and the children could not laugh anymore but no one dared to confront the dragon. One day, a brave young man set out to find the dungeon and free the Sun. Many people joined in and gave him strength and courage to challenge the mighty dragon.

The journey lasted three seasons: summer, autumn and winter. At the end of the third season the brave young man could finally reach the castle of the dragon where the Sun was imprisoned. The fight lasted several days until the dragon was defeated. Weakened by his wounds the brave young man however managed to set the Sun free to the joy of those who believed in him.

Nature was alive again, people got back their smile but the brave young man could not make it through spring. His warm blood was draining from his wounds in the snow. With the snow melting, white flowers, called snowdrops, harbingers of spring, sprouted from the thawing soil. When the last drop of the brave young man's blood fell on the pure white snow he died with pride that his life served a noble purpose. Since then, people braid two tassels: one white and one red.

Every March 1 men offer this amulet called Martisor to the women they love. The red color symbolizes love for all that is beautiful and also the blood of the brave young man, while white represents purity, good health and the snowdrop, the first flower of spring.

Literally Martisor means little March: a small trinket pinned on the lapel by which winter is parted and spring is welcomed.

Another legend says there once lived a poor man who used to make doll dresses, ribbons, tassels, and sold them at the market.

One day he ran out of fabric and all he could find at hand was two spools of yarn: one red and the other one white. Now he was thinking what could be made out of them; soon he came up with an idea. He tore off two strands from the spools, one red and one white and braided them in a cord. He was very pleased with his work and hung a small picture on his new thread. And he said to himself: How shall I call this ? I know. Martisor because is March and today is the first day of the month. This will be a gift that men offer to women. And he made several models.

Soon, the word spread about his invention. And people celebrated March 1 because they wanted to preserve the memory of the day when a poor man created the symbol of spring and regeneration. So, to the present day, people celebrate March 1.