Mărțișor is an old tradition celebrated all over Romania every year, on March 1st. The name Mărțișor is a diminutive of March (Martie in Romanian).
The Mărțișor, a spring token, a tiny adornment tied with a red and white entwined cord presented on March 1, is one of the most representative Romanian traditions also adopted in towns and cities. The tradition roots back 8,000 years, when people used to present each others red and white pebbles in a string. It is believed that the person who wears the red and white string would enjoy a prosperous and healthy year. Not long ago, in the countryside, people used to celebrate the Mărțișor by hanging a red and white string at their the gate, window, cattle’s horn and shed to protect against evil spirits and to invoke nature’s regenerative power.
The Dacians (Romanians’ ancestors) believed these amulets brought fertility, beauty and prevented sunburns and they wore them when the trees started blooming and they were later hung on the tree twigs. Folklore scientists found Mărțișor variants in the ancient civilization as well and they think they are directly related to God Mars’ heralds, because it was on Mars ides when snow was not melted yet throughout the Roman Empire, when military campaigns could start. Therefore, red and white means exactly that day, as well as vitality and victory, on one hand and purification and inauguration on the other.
Young ladies and women dear to us are presented these spring tokens on March 1, the Mărțișor day. Romanians buy silky red-white threads (șnur) tied into a bow to which a small trinket is attached and offer them to their (female) family members, friends and colleagues to show friendship, respect or admiration. The spring token is worn for a week or two, on outer garments, and is one of the most symbolic and powerful traditions in the romanian culture.