March 1. This day, Romanian girls and women are being given small gifts, small decorative objects, called ”little march” – ”martisor”, tied with a white and red string, symbols of optimism, good luck and prosperity. The little march symbol might be sent as well with greeting cards with images of spring, or tying together early spring flowers like traditionally snow drops, with hyacinths, tulips and sweet violets.
So, what is little march? This is an ancient Romanian tradition, a fond appellative of the month of March.
March is a mixture of warm, summery days and cold and snowy interludes. March is the month of the spring equinox, and used to be the beginning of the new agrarian year, and bearing the same name as Mars, the roman deity of war.
With red and white spun tightly together, cold transitioning to warmth, purity and love, little march string represents the month of March, symbolizing optimism, beginnings, hope.
Little march legend has it that an old lady, Dochia, spun the string as the “string of days”, similar with the string symbolizing man’s life spun by fairies in other traditions.
In old times, the little march string was tied to children’s hand, to protect them from evil and diseases, worn like necklace or on the blouses by girls. According to the region, the little march string was worn until March 9, or Palm Sunday, or Easter, or May 1. Others would wear it until some fruit trees would bloom, or until migratory birds return. When the period to wear it ended, the string was tied to blooming cherry branches, or to icons.
Little march remains a symbol of love, of hope and joy, meant to bring these warm feelings to those that will give and receive this little gift.
Have a wonderful spring!