Probably for a lot of you this date doesn’t mean much, but in Romania it is a very nice day for all women. As my grandparents told us when we were growing up, “Mărţişor” is the symbol of spring. After a long and cold winter this small mark is considered to be a helper to bring back joy and warmth in everyone’s heart.
A lot of the popular legends explain why the chosen colours are white and red.
The legend I know says that there were a boy and a girl who were extremely fond of each other, but their parents were against their love. There is a fight for the girl and the boy dies. His blood is dripping on the white snow and snowdrops appear from underneath it. The girl finds him and while she takes him into her arms she stains her white dress with his blood. In order to treasure his memory better she decides to tear her stained dress and wear the red and white material as a symbol of their love.
Later young people started giving red and white cords with a gold or silver penny to their loved ones for luck and prosperity. Red symbolizes courage and strength and white means purity and honesty.
Also, it is said that Baba Dochia, which is the old lady that doesn’t want spring to come, has 9 coats that she needs to take off in order for spring to come. Because she has a lot of mood swings and hangs on tightly to her coats, weather changes a lot from the 1st of March until the 9th of March. People have to choose a day in this period and if it’s sunny they will have a very good year, if it’s rainy they will have a more difficult journey.
Naturally I have learned these legends from my grandparents, but there a lot of different versions of them; in the end of the day it is just a factor of using your imagination and believing that every darkness and evil has its own brightness and good.
Today, men offer women this symbol to show an appreciation and to show respect, because this is also considered to be a symbol of fertility and good will.
Women that wear a mărţişor attached to their clothes will be lucky all year and no harm will touch them. The red and white cord usually has pinned to it other emblems that help ones luck, such as a clover, a horseshoe or even a chimney sweeper; these are all emphasizing luck and prosperity for the New Year that just comes to life with the return of spring and good weather.
Traditions like this need to be remembered, because they are a value and maybe a historical emblem for a country.
So, have a very bright and sunny 1st of March, Mărţişor Day!