The thousand-year old Martisor (Mahr-tzee-shor) tradition

OZBMARCH_Martisoare-360x240 (Demo)

Come March 1st and Romania becomes the land of flowers and Martisoare. 

By Dana Tudose Tianu

Women walk the streets holding huge bouquets of spring flowers, especially pink and purple hyacinths, and wearing (at least one) Martisor on their coat or jacket’s collar or lapel. School girls often pin all the martisoare they receive from classmates onto their shirts. Teachers traditionally leave school, on March 1st, with an armful of flowers. 

The mood is overall cheery, obviously celebrating the coming of spring. And this has been going on for as long as we can all remember, successfully surviving the grim communist years. 

The object itself, the “martisor” being gifted, has evolved through the years from classic representations of four leaf clovers, chimney sweeps and horseshoes (for luck) to elaborate pieces of hand-made jewelry, manufactured from porcelain, stained glass, semi-precious stones, silver and gold-plated metals. Brooches are now most likely to be gifted as martisoare, and are assorted with a red-and-white string, which truly represents the symbol of the Martisor tradition. 

According to Romanian ethnologists, it appears that Dacians were celebrating the coming of spring, at the beginning of March, with Martisoare, as well. The Dacians were the inhabitants of Dacia, which, in antiquity, was an area of central Europe bounded by the Carpathian Mountains and covering much of the historical region of Transylvania (modern north-central and western Romania). 

During the Dacian times, red and white little pebbles were lined on a string and gifted for Martisor. Even though Martisor is a mostly-Romanian tradition, it has been adopted by other nations living south of the Danube, like the neighboring Bulgarians. 

HAND-MADE MARTISOARE FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES

Hundreds of school-aged children make and/or sell hand-made martisoare to raise funds for various causes. It’s a team exercise which stimulates creativity and also helps children appreciate and share a national tradition, while contributing to the wellbeing of small communities.  

In Bucharest, the largest Martisor Fair took place at the Romanian Peasant Museum, where traditional motifs blended with original ideas and attracted huge crowds during the February 29-March 1st week-end. 

MAKING AND SELLING MARTISOARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Making Martisoare and selling them on Social Media (Facebook and Instagram) has offered many people the opportunity to make extra money in February and March. Workshops were held where you could learn how to make martisoare and they attracted teens and adults as well. Tens of fairs took place in Bucharest, in Cafes, inside libraries, bookstores, museums, where more seasoned, as well as beginner-manufacturers, had the opportunity to sell unique martisoare. 

Subway entrances became display areas for tens of martisor-sellers,  while stores like Mega Image, Cora, Carrefour, Auchan, Kaufland, Profi and Lidl, all sell Martisoare for a slightly higher price than you’d find on the street. Important fairs, such as the one at the Romanian peasant Museum would feature hand-made and often unique martisoare, priced accordingly, with ceramic-made martisoare selling for 50-60 RON per piece.  


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