In our days, 1st of March has a big commercial connotation, as “Martisor” is only an object, accompanied by a woven red and white string that is offered as a gift to women. The “Martisor” took many shapes over the years, while the initial significance of announcing spring, maintaining optimism and honoring a hero has been lost.
The legend of Martisor
They say that once, the Sun came down on Earth shaped as a handsome young man, to participate at a celebration in the village. The bad dragon kidnapped the Sun and locked him in a cage, which made the entire world sad, the children stopped playing and the birds stopped signing. Seeing all this, a sturdy young man decided to gather strength from the people and go search for the dragon to free the sun. The voyage of the young man lasted 3 seasons to get to the cage where the sun was kept- summer, autumn and winter. Towards the end of winter, the young man found the castle of the dragon and battled him to victory, and the sun was freed and returned to the sky, announcing the arrival of spring.
Unfortunately, the young hero was weakened and died, while the blood from his wounds poured onto the white snow. Since then, young people weave two strings, a white one and a red one that they then offer girls: the red signifies the love and reminds of the young man’s blood, while the white symbolizes purity and the beginning.
Another legend of Martisor is the one related to “Old Dochia (Baba Dochia in Romanian mythology)”. It seems that one day on 1st of March, rambling the mountains with the sheep, Old Dochia found a coin that she tied with a string, from there originating the custom of Martisor.
The Martisor is in close connection with the Romanian tradition, and it is found only in the Carpathian area and the margin areas, in Romanian culture and the neighboring countries, who borrowed it. At the origin, the Martisor was represented by a golden or silver coin that would bring luck and happiness, after which small pebbles dyed in white and blue and held on a string replaced it. The red and white Martisor string signified the unity of opposites, summer-winter, hot-cold, light-dark, woman-man, fertility-sterility etc.
In the past, the Martisor string was offered to both women and men and it was worn around the wrist, or on your chest, until the blossoming of the first fruit trees. After that, the string was attached to the trees on the verge of blossoming, and the unmarried girls would put them under a big rock, to bring luck in finding a future husband.