In Romania, the most common tradition linked to the arrival of spring is called “mărțișor”, and it is celebrated on the 1st day of March.
The custom consists of gifting women small objects, often adornments, tied to a braided cord of white and red thread. Since this custom is associated with the end of winter, it is a widely spread practice for a “mărțișor” to be offered alongside consecrated spring flowers, such as snowdrops or hyacinths.
A wide-spread belief is that wearing the adornment will bring good luck, and it is not rare to encounter throughout the month many women wearing the afore-mentioned ornaments or small red and white accents, such as bracelets or hairpins.
It is not clear when exactly the tradition started, but some say it may last since the Roman Empire’s domination on the balkan area, when New Year’s Eve was celebrated on the first day of spring, which was at the time the 1st of March. The practice is also common in other east-european countries. For example, bulgarians also offer “mărțișoare”, even if under a different name, “martenițe”.
There are many legends and folk tales surrounding this tradition, the red and white tread being often associated with the Sun, good luck, the banishment of winter or even the fight between good and evil. If they ar true or not, we will probably never know, but what is certain is the “mărțișor” tradition remains a beautiful, original way to celebrate the end of winter and the blossoming of nature with the arrival of spring.