March begins tomorrow, which means it’s time for Mărțișor! Mărțișor is a month-long Moldovan/Romanian tradition that celebrates life, new beginnings, and the coming of spring. On the first (tomorrow!) people will give each other little red and white adornments to wear. In some regions, these adornments are to be worn for the first 12 days of March, while in others they are worn until the end of March or the first sign of spring. I’m not sure what’s the most common practice in my city, but I’ll let you know!
We have been making these Mărțișor adornments at the center for the past week and a half. You can also buy them on almost every street and in the markets. Here’s a picture of the one I received from the center.
The following is a traditional Moldovan folk story that explains why the colors of Mărțișor are red and white. My co-worker shared this story with me the other day. I hope I didn’t leave out too many details!
On the first day of March the Spring Princess was skipping through a snowy valley full of white snowdrops (a flower). Everywhere she stepped the snow melted, and in its place signs of spring began to appear. As she was making her way through the valley she met the Winter Princess. The Winter Princess was furious that she had to leave in favor of the Spring. Winter was so mad in fact, that she began a fight. During the fight Spring cut her finger, and a drop of her blood fell on the snowdrops. With this drop of blood all of the snowdrops in the land turned red. This marked the end of the fight, and the Winter Princess left. Thus, the two colors (red and white) symbolize Spring’s victory over Winter, as well as the ideas of rebirth and continuity.
I’m very excited that spring is coming. There are many places I want to visit that have so far been off-limits because of ice/the snow/the cold. I also can’t wait to see why Chisinau is called the “Greenest City in Europe.” I’ve been told that there are some great parks in my area, perfect for picnics once it warms up!
For more information about the history/ethnology of Mărțișor: