Martisor – 1st of March tradition in Romania


Martisor (spelled ”mahrtzeeshore”) is probably the most famous Romanian tradition which symbolizes the coming of Spring.


Photo by Ion Chibzii

Although the official (astronomical) first day of Spring is the Spring equinox (20th of March), a small symbolic gesture in Romania brings it closer to women’s hearts.

A few days before the 1st of March, almost everywhere you go in Romania you will see street vendors and shops filled with some little colorful objects or shiny metal accessories, tied with a beautiful red and white string. Well, that’s the Mărțișor and is offered by men to women.

Initially, this was called the Year’s Rope (Funia anului) and it was made by black and white wool threads. It symbolized the summer and winter, the opposing forces, light and dark, black and white, warm and cold.

However, the tradition can also be interpreted. According to old Roman customs, March was the perfect month to start military campaigns. Adding the fact that Mars was the god of war but also of fertility – red comes from the blood shed in battles and white from the purity of women – fertility.

Nowadays, the Martisor remains just a cultural symbol of friendship and respect to the others and if you’re in Romania between the last days of February and the first days of March, don’t hesitate to find out more about it.

Oh, and don’t forget, March is also the start for our bear watching tours, so here’s another reason to visit Romania.

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