Blog, Culture Files

Red and White String of Spring

The day started off nicely, with the sound of the raindrops splattering rhythmically on my balcony’s roof. A delightful sound, there’s no denying. And all that was missing was a piano. Too bad I can’t play it. Oh well.

The whiteness of the ceiling greeted my eyes good morning and the phone cried silently by my side. I must’ve hurt its feelings by not checked the message it received and tried so ardently to share with me fast enough. The alarm slept quietly. I must’ve shut it off at some point. Ack. I got up later than planned and today was a busy day by definition! After all, it is the first of March! So many things to do, so many plans to fulfill.

A few days ago, I’ve decided to make this spring special, for you see, I was blessed with some amazing friends, visitors from other lands, who knew very little of the magical day of now. Naturally, I’ve chosen to cast some happiness across their paths as well. Red–white thread of spring in action!

I quickly got out of the bed, done what had to be done and got to work. The little gifts awaited patiently on my desk; the papers too. School, spring, and gifts. All I was missing was some dear little song.

I grabbed the colored markers, some sheets of paper, scissors and some glue, and happily started working on the small envelopes that were to hide the joy-bringers from curious eyes. Good game self; my design attracted even more attention.

But what was it that I were to offer them? Surely, not diamonds. Neh.

Have you ever heard of mărţişor? I bet not. Well, not unless you’re a Romanian (or you’ve got some friends from over here). Curious to know what it is? Then read ahead~!

Basically, a mărţişor is a red and white thread that Romanian people give and receive on the first day of March, then wear until the end of the month. Where I come from, the tradition goes like this: on this day, girls and women receive one such object (that is usually attached either to a breast pin or a little medallion), which they either have a boy or man tie it around their wrists or simply pin it to their clothes. Mind you, there is no romantic meaning behind all this.

What mărţişor symbolizes is the arrival of spring. Sometimes, besides this tiny object, girls also receive flowers—the most common of all, a snowdrop. Oh, did I mention that in the case of guys, the mărţişor is worn around the wrist? And of course, the ones to tie it, are gals. Again, no romance!

Okay, okay, maybe… since you are so eager to attach some of that to it too, it is possible to have it that way also. For example, girls use to ask their crushes to tie the little string for them. Same goes for guys. (As a fun fact, I’ve struggled for around half an hour to tie mine, since there was no-one around that could help me. The joys of life~)

This tiny object works as some sort of charm too. Traditionally, it is found in the form of a four-leaf clover, a chimney sweeper, a horse shoe, a flower—good luck amulets, if I may say so. Unfortunately, nowadays, they are mostly found in a more commercial form. I remember seeing even a Hello Kitty one. What’s next? Spiderman?!

Hiro
Here I present you—my mărţişor: a four-leaf clover.

The fun part is that at the end of the month, the mărţişor is taken off and either thrown into a thorn bush, or tied into a tree. Some people actually make wishes when tying it into a tree, as they believe that if the tree blooms, their wish will come true. In my hometown, the string is simply put into a thorn bush. Usually this is associated with the productivity of the year.

Skipping other unnecessary details, how about I share a small legend I have learned ages ago? Yes, the mărţişor seems to have roots in it. Yay-yay, story time!

It is said that once upon a time, the Sun came down on Earth, disguised as a girl and participated into one of the traditional Romanian dances, when a dragon kidnapped her and flew back to his castle. Everything became grim on Earth from that day on. However, after some time, one brave young man decided to go and find the castle where the Sun was kept captive, defeat the dragon, and set the Sun free. One year round he traveled, going through all the seasons, and finally, when snow fell, he discovered it. Challenging the dragon to a fight, the young man hoped to attain his goal. However, due to the dragon’s strength, the lad was not unharmed, and once the creature died, the Sun returned to dear Skies, and he himself remained to die. The spot where he laid dead was soon covered in pure white flowers, around which strings of blood traced scarlet lines on the whiteness of the snow. That is how the mărţişor came to be born, since ever after then people all over the country began wearing red and white strings to always remember the brave fallen lad, the beauty of spring and the joy of bright days.

Kind of a sad story, no? The fun part is that this is not the only legend involving the charm. There are many more, but this is actually my favorite one! Now, I am a bit curious: do you have any similar traditions for the spring time, there where you live? Do you have any knowledge of similar stories related to the beginning of spring? It’s be pretty cool if you shared them with me in a comment below~

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20 thoughts on “Red and White String of Spring”

    1. Thank you! 😀
      That’s really cool! We also offer flowers to girls/women during the first day of spring. Sometimes along with the mărţişor. Imagine the joy girls/women experience while receiving both~

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Haha, yes! Though, some guys are quite forgetful. I remember back in the days of high-school when I used to come home with a bunch of mărţişoare and maybe flowers too, since the majority of my classmates were guys. It’s nice to receive flowers and these little tokens too. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I actually heard about this tradition for the first time from someone else today and I absolutely love it. I am from Austria, but I think it would be nice to adopt the tradition also. This is great! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh! Did they have any contact with the Romanian culture? Haha, yeah, it’s a really nice tradition, but with today’s commercial era, I’m afraid we might lose it. 😦 Hmm, do you have any similar traditions there? 😀

      Like

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