Martisor, which occurs on March 1st, is a holiday celebrated in Romania and Moldova. “Martisor” is an old way of saying “little March,” and it is observed with the giving of martisor amulets.
The Martisor Amulet Tradition
Martisors are small tokens of friendship or love given on the Martisor holiday. Traditionally, martisors have been given by men to the women in their lives, who then wear the martisor pinned to their blouses.
But March 1st in Romania and Moldova is not just about love, and martisors have meaning that, some believe, can be traced back thousands of years.
In the past, martisors were made with black and white threads to signify the opposing forces of the world: good and evil, life and death, darkness and light. This tradition persists in some regions, though it has largely been replaced with the colors of love. Today, martisors are made with red and white threads. The red color symbolizes blood and womanhood and the white color represents the male spirit and snow, their combination meaningful for relationships.
Martisors may be nothing but twisted or woven threads, but often a small medallion or coin is attached, giving the amulet individual character. In some cases, the medallion or decorative part of the martisor may eclipse the red-and-white threads that are integral to the piece. This medallion can take the form of a blossom, a shell, a ladybug, a heart, or any other shape the maker prefers.
Wearing the Martisor
Traditionally, martisors are worn for a specific period of time. In some regions, they are worn for the first 12 days of March; in others, the wearer keeps them until the end of March or the first sign of spring. Like the martenitsa tradition of Bulgaria, martisors, once worn, may be transferred to a blossoming tree as a way of acknowledging the onset of spring.