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Wednesday, March 01, 2006
First day of spring
Yesterday morning, before going to school for the microeconomics test that has been keeping me busy lately, along with other things, I checked the weather outside. Chilly, quite cold actually, cloudy but dry. So I left with nothing on my head and no umbrella. It wouldn’t rain today!

When I got out of the subway I stumbled in the middle of a snow storm. It was snowing with that type of snowflakes that sting your face like iced needles…And the wind, the wind that was blowing from God knew what direction! For me it was blowing from all directions! And I could really hear it blowing all around my head, like shivers in my ears…

This kind of weather always makes me feel a bit angry, annoyed, I don’t know exactly how…it just spoils my mood! Yet when I got outside after the exam, the snow was already taking over the town…And I am a sucker for this white cover that sometimes makes everything seem cleaner, purer…

By 11 PM (when I left home from work, all the streets were covered in snow. Of course the City Hall paid, no, stuffed with money, company that should take care of the snow was caught by surprise! They are always caught by surprise by snow in winter! :D

Therefore we have today an amazing first day of spring: snowy and sunny! Yes, it is all covered in snow and lighted by a sun that decided to appear and fight with the passing by clouds as if it wanted to let us know: I am here, and spring will come soon! All you spring/summer lovers, relax…They will come, eventually! It might turn out to be rainy, floods bringing, moody, but there will be a warm season!

Well, so it is the First Day of Spring again…Again too soon, again time passing too fast…Like every year. My birthday again too soon. A month and some change before I turn a year older…Sigh!

The symbol of this special day is the famous – or not that famous - Martisor (a trinket, March amulet) offered to loved ones in early spring. It is mostly given to girls and women, but in some parts of the country it is the other way around, being offered to boys.

According to Wikipedeia, Mărţişor is the traditional celebration of the beginning of the spring in Romania and Moldova, on 1 March. The day's name is the diminutive of March (in Romanian Martie), and thus means something like "little" or "dear March". Nowdays, men offer women a small decorative object also called Mărţişor, consisting of a jewel or symbolizing a flower, an animal, etc., tied to a red and white string. However, giving a little nickle tied to a red and white string is an old custom and was originally designated for both men and women; it was believed that the one who wears the red and white string will be powerful and healthy for the year to come. Martisor is a symbol of the coming spring; a woman wears it pinned to her blouse on this day and up to two weeks after. Occasionally, women also give such gifts to men.

Mărţişor is the symbol of spring and also a celebration on the first of March. This celebration is more than 8,000 years old. Its beginnings are still a mystery, but it is usually said that originates in Rome, because New Year's Eve was celebrated on the 1st of March, the month of the god Mars. He was the god of agriculture and significated the rebirth of nature. For the Thracians, Marsyas-Silen, whose cult was related to the vegetation and the land, had the same attributes. The flower and nature celebrations were consecrated to him.

In early times people painted small river rocks with vibrant whites and reds and people wore them round their neck. Red was the colour of blood, sun and fire; it meant life and symbolized the feminine. White was the colour of clear water and of the sky; it symbolized the masculine. Placing the colours together meant unity between the two distinct powers. It symbolized everything that was alive and the immortality of nature. On the first of March, people organized banquets and usually drank lots of wine.

It is said that the Mărţişor originated from the Ancient Roman culture, where March (Martius) was the month of the war god Mars with a double role: both protector of agriculture and of war. This duality of symbols is kept in the colours of the Mărţişor: white and red, meaning peace and war (it might also symbolize winter and spring). This custom can be found in all areas where Romanians live. Bulgarians also have an almost identical tradition on the 1 March, called "Martenitsa".

In other parts of the country such as Moldova or Bucovina the symbol of spring was a gold or silver medal which was worn around the neck . After wearing the coin for twelve days, they bought sweet cheese with the medal, because it was believed that their faces would remain beautiful and white the entire year.

You can find more details on this wonderful day and its legends here and here.
posted by Alina @ 9:34 AM  
  • At 3/01/2006 12:22 PM, Blogger Psyché said…

    Thank you soooo much for this post, I needed to read and remember it ... on this beautiful day! So much information about this special tradition I didn't even have a clue about!
    Si cite alte amintiri nostalgice legate de ziua aceasta!

  • At 3/01/2006 1:31 PM, Blogger Adam said…

    Found this post quite interesting.

    Happy Spring ;-)(is there such a greeting).

  • At 3/01/2006 5:22 PM, Blogger Raluca said…

    La multi ani de martisor, si o primavara cu soare, care sa te binedispuna!

  • At 3/01/2006 5:38 PM, Blogger Abrar said…

    Nice BLOG!!!
    We had a similar experince with the first day of SPRING in Toronto!! it snowed and snowed!! I think we should move the spring day for out city to a better day which may look something like spring!!!

    I have added you to my blogroll!! you may wanna see my blog :)

  • At 3/02/2006 8:22 AM, Blogger Safiya said…

    It's just started snowing here too. Haven't had chance to go out in yet but it looks like snowman-building snow.

    Thank you for letting us know about the Mărţişor. It's really interesting hearing about other countries celebrations. Anything where you get given jewellery sounds good to me!

  • At 3/05/2006 9:21 AM, Blogger Alina said…

    Psyche, I am glad you enjoyed the post. We do tend to forget the legends behing the amulets, that is true.

    Thank you, Adam. There isn't something quite like that in Romanian, but thank you and same to you!

    Raluca, la multi ani si tie! O vara cat mai insorita!

    Abrar, thank you! It was quite cold, but it still was a nice day!

    Safyia, it can be jewlery, but not always that. It's mostly about spring fowers and amulets and the red-white ribbon.

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Name: Alina
Home: Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
About Me: "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts". It's also where I feel free and my preferred means of expression.
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